World Vision responds to storms and tornadoes in American South

Editor's note: At World Vision's office in New York, Mindy Mizell is coordinating media efforts concerning our response to the deadly storms and tornadoes in the American South.

URGENT: World Vision is responding to the devastation left by deadly storms in Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Mississippi, as well as the levee break in Missouri. We are working with local partners to distribute first aid kits, hygiene supplies, and other essential products to some of the hardest-hit communities.

An assessment team is also preparing to survey the damage in Alabama and look for ways to partner with churches and other local organizations to help the most vulnerable children and families.

Overnight tornadoes leaves part of Pratt City, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, in ruins April 28, 2011. Photo: REUTERS/Marvin Gentry

Long pattern of severe weather

"Much of the country has been or runs the risk of being severely impacted by weather this year," said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's emergency response director in the United States.

"World Vision is already responding to recent storms in Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Mississippi as well as the levy break in Missouri," she added.

"Now, the same destructive weather pattern that just tore through Alabama and several Southern states is quickly moving east toward our nation's capital and up through New York. Our teams will remain on high alert as we continue to monitor and assess the situation."

Focusing on vulnerable populations

Our team is especially concerned about the most vulnerable children, their families, and their communities impacted throughout the Southern states. The elderly and disabled are also particularly vulnerable and require special attention from disaster responders.

There is a high number of fatalities and families left homeless, as well as hundreds of thousands now without power.

"The most vulnerable often fall through the cracks during relief efforts because response distributions don't occur in their neighborhoods," said Freeman.

These disastrous tornadoes have produced scenes of destruction all across the South. Photo: REUTERS/Marvin Gentry

Forming local partnerships

World Vision works with local churches and other organizations in domestic disaster areas to identify families with limited means, families left destitute, or people who may have difficulty accessing other assistance.

"Churches are on the frontlines when disasters strike our country," said Freeman. "They know their communities and the needs that exist there."

World Vision's 56,000-square feet North Texas facility includes the domestic disaster response hub of prepositioned response products, such as personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, clothing, shoes, and other relief, recovery, and building materials.

Ways you can respond

Please pray:

  • For survivors of these deadly storms, especially those who have been left homeless or otherwise vulnerable.
  • That those affected will receive the basic resources they need quickly to recover and rebuild.
  • For World Vision staff as we begin our immediate assessment and response in Alabama's hardest-hit areas.

Help now

or text 'TORNADO' to '20222' to give a $10 donation


    We would like to organize a relief drive in our church. Will you be able to give a list of items that are most needed to help with the recovery efforts?

    Danielle, I'm so glad you asked this question. I just chatted with our Domestic Disaster Response Director who has let me know that the best way for churches to help at this time is to do a donation drive, rather than collecting "items" mainly because it is more efficient and, in many cases, cheaper for WV to purchase necessary items themselves. As well, World Vision leans on the generosity of corporate partners who are able to donate needed items by the truckload. Let me know if you have more questions. And please extend our gratitude to your church for their support and help.

    Please don't forget about the areas in Southwestern Virginia, near the North Carolina & Tennessee borders. It was devastated by tornadoes last night. Sadly, it's an area that's suffered greatly from the recent economic problems & many of the residents had almost nothing left before this happened.

    The areas hit in Virginia are not going unseen. As you've said, many of the areas affected already suffer from economic problems. On a conference call this morning about World Vision's response to the storm and tornadoes, our domestic disaster response director reminded us all that in the immediate aftermath World Vision will be responding in many affected areas. But as we move towards the "recovery phase" of the response in the future, we will focus our efforts in the most impoverished communities. Stay updated on our response efforts through this blog or on

    How can churches in Miami, FL. help besides donating money?

    We are wondering if you have a need for volunteers to help the victims of the tornados in Alabama or surrounding states? We are a homeschool family with 12 and 13 year old children who would be interested in taking our two children on a missions trip to help. We would be interested in assisting as a family. You can contact us at

    Thanks for all the work you do and God bless!

    Mark and Kirstin Jenkins

    Thanks, Mark and Kirstin. We may be doing a call for volunteers in the near future (to better connect those who want to help with our partners on the ground who are facilitating volunteer help). I should know more about the situation in the next 48 hours and if volunteers are needed, I will personally email you with information. Thanks very much!

    Please don't forget about Ringgold, GA. Ringgold was devastated by the tornadoes and could use any help they could get.

    Ringgold is in our prayers, Lindsay. I should have more information about World Vision's 90-day response plan (including locations we will be responding in) in the next 48 hours or so. When that information becomes available, you will be able to find it either on this blog or on Many blessings.

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