After news of the devastation from multiple tornadoes spread, Jimmy Finch knew he had to do something. So he loaded up supplies and set out from his home in Clarksville, Tenn, driving nearly two hours to Mayfield, Ky., to help feed people.
According to local news reports, Finch brought his smoker with him and soon connected with a local food truck owner to feed people in the town of approximately 10,000.
“I just came down here trying to feed the people,” Finch said in an interview with WLWT. “Everybody’s talking about they’re sending up prayers and, you know, their well wishes and everything. You know, folks can’t eat no prayer. You gotta put something in their stomach. Give them something to hold on to.”
As state and federal officials figure out the recovery for communities in the South and Midwest affected by the cluster of tornados that hit over the weekend, people like Finch and Rhonda Moss-Levelle are filling in the gap.
Moss-Levelle told the outlet that her family’s food truck remained untouched, and she and Finch are just doing what made sense. Three residents of Bowling Green set up a stand giving out free hot dogs and hamburgers to help folks in the aftermath of the storm.
Around the region, people are filling in the gap to meet the overwhelming need of the moment. Located in Louisville, Ky., the Muhammad Ali Center announced support for relief efforts.
“The Ali Center is joining the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Efforts following last weekend’s historically devastating storms” the center tweeted.” Starting Wednesday, we’ll donate $1 for every admission ticket sold until January 30th, and $3000 immediately. Western Kentucky, we are here for you!”
Hood to the Holler leveraged its platform to share opportunities to support community-led efforts in response to the disaster. Kentuckians For The Commonwealth also pulled together a list of resources for those in need and people looking to provide support.
Another mutual aid organization in eastern Kentucky was helping to coordinate supplies from local public school districts to help affected families and students in the western part of the state.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a relief fund to directly benefit people in the western part of the state impacted by the tornadoes. As of Monday morning, over $4 million had been raised.
Severe weather disasters are increasingly becoming the norm in many communities around the country, with mutual aid becoming more commonplace than in previous years. As communities continue to work together to sustain each other in times of crisis, policymakers and elected leaders will need to get serious about real solutions to protecting people’s lives and livelihoods.