Updated December 17: As these tornadoes came through the Midwest just before Christmas, the IAFF and the Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters are working with the Kentucky locals and locals from nearby states to ensure member families are able celebrate the holiday season. Some 29 families including 65 children are being assisted through toy drives and monetary donations. Already, the generosity of the extended fire fighter family is overwhelming with thousands of dollars and countless toys already donated.
Meanwhile, Baton Rouge, LA Local 577 has also delivered tarps, generators and fuel for members who need it.
Posted December 14: A series of tornadoes tore a 200-mile path through eight states December 10-11, but the hardest hit was Mayfield, Kentucky, along with a few neighboring cities, where the death toll continues to climb.
“Our Kentucky members are doing what fire fighters do; they are doing all they can to help the citizens of their community. Now, this IAFF must do its job: help our members,” says General President Edward Kelly. “IAFF resources have been deployed to the area and will remain there as long as needed.”
Some members of Mayfield Local 3241, Murray Local 5242, Lexington Local 526 and Louisville Local 345 have reported mild to moderate damage to their residences, while Mayfield’s Fire Station 1 was destroyed along with the gear inside.
The IAFF is on the ground in Mayfield assessing members’ needs, which include peer support, water, fuel and other supplies. In addition, members need financial assistance as the city’s infrastructure has collapsed and they don’t know when they will see their next paycheck.
“The reports I am receiving from 8th District members indicate a level of devastation unlike any of them has ever seen,” says 8th District Vice President Mark Sanders. “I am grateful that our disaster relief team members will be assisting our members and their families in the days to come.”
Due to the sheer magnitude of the devastation, Local 3241 members requested to adjust shift hours to 36 hours on/36 hours off. Members from nearby locals, including Jefferson County Local 3972 and Newport Local 45, are providing backfill relief for at least the next 12 days.
“We expect the high call volume to continue and need to make sure our members can go home to check on their own families,” says Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters President Joe Baer. “As they do, we will be ready to provide any resources they need until the situation there stabilizes.”
The IAFF will also be providing peer support services to our Local 3421 members who have witnessed the greatest loss of life and injuries as a candle factory with a full shift of workers was destroyed. The factory was in operation when the tornadoes touched down and took a direct hit. Mayfield Local 3241, Paducah Local 168 and Owensboro Local 870 members helped bring many factory workers to safety, but also had to bring out the bodies of those who did not survive.
Additional resources on the way include generators and fuel cans, shower and laundry trailers and caches of other basic necessities.
President Joe Biden has approved Governor Andy Beshear’s emergency declaration request, releasing federal aid resources to the state.
The best way you can help your brothers and sisters is to donate to the IAFF Foundation, which provides assistance to our members and their families in their times of need. Donate today at www.iaff.org/midwest-tornadoes.