Relief aid arrives for Arkansas tornado survivors

In the wake of tornadoes that devastated areas of the Midwest, South, and East, World Vision has begun distributing relief supplies in rural Arkansas communities hard-hit by the deadly storms.

By John Iwasaki, World Vision U.S.
Updated May 2, 2014 at 02:00pm PDT

World Vision is set to distribute personal hygiene kits and other relief supplies to battered areas in central Arkansas, part of our multi-state response to deadly tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest, South, and East.

First relief supply shipment delivered

World Vision’s initial shipment of aid supplies, including blankets, clothing, and paper products — enough to serve up to 1,200 people — were delivered to a local partner in Little Rock, Arkansas.

From there, the items are going to families in Mayflower and Vilonia, two towns to the north leveled by tornadoes on April 27, killing 11.

Not a lot of media coverage

The twister affected four generations of a family in Mayflower, visited by World Vision staff May 1.

Beatrice Stubbs surveyed damage at her home — its ceiling open to the blue sky, its windows blown out — with her mother, Mary Ella Fuller. 

Nearby were her sister, Ariel Pitts, and her nieces, Aalivia, 7, and Alaiya, 5.

“She appreciated all that was going on,” said Phyllis Freeman, national director for domestic disaster relief with World Vision’s U.S. programs, after giving hygiene kits to the family.

But Stubbs also expressed concern about their neighborhood’s fate because it had “not [received] a lot of media coverage,” Freeman added.

A focus on economically struggling communities

It’s those types of communities — the ones already struggling economically and lacking in resources — that World Vision focuses on after disasters strike. We partner with churches and other community organizations in relief operations.

From Mayflower, population 2,300, Freeman and her staff will head west to assess tornado damage in an even smaller community: Quapaw, a town of about 900 residents in the northeast corner of Oklahoma.

Tornadoes destroyed half of Quapaw, Freeman said, and “in the past, towns that small never recover.”

World Vision also is assessing damage in some parts of North Carolina.

A deadly and destructive storm system

Nearly 100 tornadoes have ripped through the Midwest, South, and East since April 27, causing more than 30 deaths and destroying or damaging hundreds of homes, according to news reports.

The National Weather Service said the twister that flattened central Arkansas was a “high-end” EF4, the second-most powerful level of tornado, packing winds of 166 to 200 mph.

The storm system also caused heavy rains and massive flooding in the Gulf Coast states, especially Florida.

What you can do

Pray for children, families, and communities affected by the recent tornadoes and flooding. Pray that the help sent would reach those in greatest need.

Make a one-time donation to help us respond to disasters in the United States. Your gift will help us respond quickly and effectively to life-threatening emergencies that affect our American neighbors.