From the Field

2021 U.S. tornadoes: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

A series of deadly tornadoes left a trail of devastation across more than 200 miles of the U.S. Midwest and South late Friday, December 10, 2021, affecting hundreds of thousands in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The death toll rose to 90, including 77 in Kentucky.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it “the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history.” Kentucky recorded at least four twisters, including one that tore across more than 200 miles and multiple states.

Search-and-rescue efforts were underway in several states as the storms left thousands without power and many with devastating damage to their homes during the busy Christmas season.

World Vision is helping to assess the impact and has shipped a convoy of three trucks loaded with emergency relief supplies to Kentucky churches and other relief sites in areas affected by the storms.

FAQs: What you need to know about the tornadoes in the South and Midwest

Explore facts and frequently asked questions about the tornadoes that hit the South and Midwest in December 2021, including how you can help people impacted, and please join us in prayer for affected children and families.

Fast facts: Tornadoes in the South and Midwest

  • Multiple storms and tornadoes were unleashed across more than 200 miles of the U.S. late Friday and early Saturday, affecting states including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
  • Nearly 100 tornado warnings and more than 200 severe storm warnings were issued for the South and Midwest Friday.
  • Search and rescue operations were underway in several states, including:
    • In Mayfield, Kentucky, where about 100 employees were working the late shift at a candle factory that was flattened by a tornado. Eight people were confirmed dead, and eight others missing. Company officials said 90 others had been located.
    • In southern Illinois, where a partial building collapse at an Amazon facility reportedly killed six workers and hospitalized another,
    • In northeastern Arkansas, where at least two people died, another five were injured, and at least 20 were trapped after a nursing home collapsed, according to Reuters.


How did the storms develop?

The twisters were part of a weather system that also caused snowfall in the upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.

It originated in Arkansas and moved to Missouri and Tennessee before barreling through Kentucky, according to Michael Dossett, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.

Learn more about tornado facts and how to prepare.


How is World Vision responding to the tornadoes?

World Vision responded immediately. We deployed a convoy of three truckloads of relief supplies from our Chicago and Dallas warehouses to churches in Kentucky and other locations impacted by the tornadoes. Supplies include food, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, bleach, Family Emergency Kits, hygiene kits, personal care items, diapers, heaters, blankets, solar lights, coolers, mini-refrigerators, and toys.

“We are just trying to be hands and feet of Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Derrick Scobey of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — a World Vision partner. He joined relief efforts in Kentucky, where a shipment of critical supplies was being readied for impacted families in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Karima Bright lives in Mayfield, one of the hardest-hit communities. She and her 7-year-old grandson survived the terrifying storm by sheltering inside their home’s only closet.

“He was so scared,” Karima told “CBS Evening News.” “I said, ‘We’re going to be okay. We’re going to make it. Just hold on, hold on, hold on.’” Karim credits God for saving them. She spoke tearfully as she described the discovery of her late son’s Bible among the debris, “It’s all God because He saved us.”


How can I help people affected by the tornadoes and other disasters in the U.S.?

  • Pray with us for children and families whose lives have been shattered and for the many volunteers who are helping tirelessly with rescue efforts.
  • Give now to help deliver critical aid and relief supplies to survivors of U.S. disasters including these devastating tornadoes.
  • Volunteer to help World Vision respond to disasters or assist in efforts.


Disaster Relief

View All Stories
A woman carries a baby through a debris-strewn field following a landslide. In the background, men traverse uphill, the collapsed mountain beyond them.

Papua New Guinea landslide: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Aid workers rush to the scene of devastation after a deadly earthquake in Herat.
From the Field

Explore World Vision’s disaster responses