UW Combined Fund Drive

April 7, 2023

Support recovery efforts for areas impacted by tornadoes

Birmingham, Alabama, following a tornado on January 12, 2023 / National Weather Service

The 2023 tornado season has already resulted in nearly 500 tornado reports across 25 states, and a death toll more than double that of last year–and most of the peak period, through June, is still ahead.Ā 

Already this year, tornadoes have taken a heavy toll on property, devastating homes, businesses and infrastructure–particularly in areas where social factors compound vulnerabilities to extreme weather (on average, 54% of tornado-related fatalities are in mobile homes). More than 60 deaths have already resulted from 2023 tornadoes, compared to 23 deaths from all of the 2022 season.

According to the National Weather Service, a tornado is a ā€œa narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.ā€ Learn more about tornadoes.

Mississippi and Alabama have been especially hard hit this year, while Missouri was hit by a destructive twister just this week that killed at least four people.

April and May are historically the deadliest months for tornadoes, while July through October are generally low-fatality months – but tornadoes can happen just about anywhere, at anytime. They often strike in the late afternoon and early evening.

Tornadoes are more common in the U.S. than any other country. To learn more about staying safe before, during and after a tornado, read these tornado safety tips.

Tornadoes have occurred in every state of the country, including Alaska, but are most common east of the Rockies. The Plains, the South, the Midwest and the Tennessee Valley are hot spots, with diminishing risk east of the Appalachians. And contrary to popular lore, tornadoes cross rivers, strike cities and can occur in the mountains.

So many tornadoes form in the United States because its geography and climate bring together the key ingredients for spinning storms: a mix of cold, dry and warm, humid air. This year’s increased storm activity may also be fueled by frequent record-breakingĀ temperatures in the South and abnormally highĀ Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperaturesĀ – both of which suggest human-caused climate change.

Read about the science behind storm prediction: NOAA Severe Storms Laboratory

How you can help

Donate Blood: The American Red Cross reports that blood donations were at a historic low before the deadly tornadoes, resulting in the worst blood shortage in over a decade. There is an urgent call for blood donations to help victims of these tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Note: You may still donate blood, platelets or plasma after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tornado damage in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, March 25, 2023. (Source: David Parker via Facebook)

Support recovery efforts: Government agencies, nonprofits and disaster relief organizations assist the communities ravaged by the deadly tornadoes. Food, water, shelter and blood products are the most immediate needs for communities, along with medical supplies and medications, pediatric care items, personal protective equipment and nutritional supplements.

Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations actively responding to the aftermath of these storms and mobilizing for additional weather events:

TheĀ American Red Cross (charity code 0337346) provides many relief services in the aftermath of a major storms and tornados, including sheltering and feeding residents, distributing clean-up supplies such as shovels, rakes, tarps, and work gloves, conducting damage assessment of homes impacted by storms, providing mental health support, including counseling for families impacted by storms and tips on self-care and how to cope.

The American Red Cross is in urgent need of blood donations to be delivered to hospitals in the affected areas, as they are experiencingĀ the worst blood shortage in over a decade.

AmeriCares (charity code 0315518), a health-focused relief and development organization, has deployed an emergency response team that has begun their work in the heavily impacted areas in and around Mayfield, Kentucky. The organization is also readying relief supplies for shipment to the affected communities.

Mercy Corps (charity code 0316589) Ā is a global team of humanitarians working together on the front lines of crisis, disaster, poverty, and climate change to create a world where everyone can prosper.

CARE (charity code 0315522), an international aid organization based in Atlanta, has provided water, food, shelter, and cash assistance to the families affected by the tornados.

Feeding America (charity code 0464861) is committed to providing meals, water, and supplies to Kentucky and Arkansas’s heavily impacted areas. If you prefer to support their national disaster relief program, you can contribute to theĀ Feeding America disaster relief fund.

The Salvation Army (charity code 1478728) teams of personnel are providing meals to residents, first responders, and volunteers in Mayfield, Kentucky, a town that was directly in the path of the storms. Trained personnel ensure resources and services are focused where needed most.

Direct Relief (charity code 0316325) works in the U.S. and internationally to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medical resources to care for the worldā€™s most vulnerable people. Teams continue a multi-state tornado response focusing on delivering essential medications to cold storage, such as TDap vaccines, antibiotics and insulin.

International Medical Corps (charity code 1479246) relieves the suffering of those affected by conflict, disaster and disease, often in difficult and dangerous environments. We deliver vital healthcare services and training that help devastated populations move from relief to self-reliance. IMC is working with local partners to provide temporary shelters, generators, medical supplies and equipment, and hygiene items.

Save the Children (charity code 0315475): Tornados and severe weather events can destroy or disrupt infrastructure critical to childrenā€™s well-being. Save the Childrenā€™s emergency response team is mobilizing to meet the most urgent needs of children most impacted by the central U.S. tornados.


The tornados left hundreds of pets separated from their owners and without a home. The national network of Humane Societies, with help from many animal welfare nonprofits, is working to reunite pets with their owners in the affected regions, as well as to alleviate the overflow of animals in local shelters by transferring them to northern states where their chances of adoption are higher.

Humane Society Disaster Relief (charity code 0314983): OurĀ Animal Rescue and Response team is prepared to answer the callĀ for any large-scale emergencies, such asĀ hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, utility outages and more.

ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (charity code 0315252): At the urgent request of the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS), we are mobilizing our disaster response teams to provide critical support for animals impacted by the devastating tornadoes.