Responding To The December 2021 Tornadoes

The Situation

Tornadoes devastated the lives and homes of families across six states over the weekend of December 10. Western Kentucky appears to have taken the hardest hit. At least 100 are feared dead. 

Our Response

  • Our team has been deployed to conduct assessments in Benton, Mayfield, Dawson Springs - areas hardest hit - and surrounding communities and states to understand the scope of need and identify where our rebuilding efforts would be most needed.
  • Immediately, our team will help impacted communities by distributing educational resources to help them navigate recovery, including avoiding contractor fraud, maximizing insurance, and navigating FEMA. We will distribute these through our door-to-door efforts, our networks, the networks of our partners, and via social and digital ad campaigns. Survivors have both remote and in-person options for education through Zoom webinars, in-person training, and through our Equip app, enabled by AT&T.
  • We are launching FEMA appeals clinics, including direct FEMA clinics, a “train the trainer” program, and a call-in clinic in partnership with Amazon Web Services to help as many disaster-impacted people as possible navigate the process. Over the last year, we have helped survivors receive an additional $180,000 in needed federal and state assistance through these clinics. 
  • We’re partnering with state, county, and municipal leaders in affected areas to ensure survivors and communities secure access to vital recovery resources, protect survivors from bad actors, and set clear and aggressive recovery goals to build back quickly and stronger than before.
  • We will work with local nonprofit partners to ensure they have the training, resources, and funding they need to rebuild homes quickly, efficiently, and sustainably via our SHARE fund, which includes provision of AmeriCorps volunteers to expand rebuilding capacity as well as direct grants to nonprofits (funded through generous corporate partners). 

Our Experience

Seeing the destruction from the tornadoes in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee this weekend brings back heartbreaking memories of our early days in Joplin, Missouri, after the devastating tornadoes in 2011. But those memories only strengthen our resolve as our experience responding in Joplin uniquely positions SBP to meet this moment.

There will be coming projections about how long these devastated communities will take to recover fully. It may feel overwhelming and impossible, but know this: The recovery projections for Joplin were 7-10 years. Our team cut that recovery time in half and brought families home less than three and a half years after the tornadoes touched down. Efficient, long-term recovery is possible.

We learned valuable lessons after Joplin that helped us expand our impact nationally and, more importantly, how helping others in their darkest hour can be the difference between making it and not, between survivors reaching their breaking point or not. We stand ready to deploy those lessons learned today.