LENEXA, Kan. — Organizations in Kansas City are sending relief efforts to the aftermath of the Friday night tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest.
Operation BBQ Relief and Heart to Heart International have deployed initial response teams in the last 48 hours to Kentucky for damage assessment and assistance.
“We got everything from chicken, some bacon for breakfast,” said Stan Hays, Operation BBQ Relief co-founder and CEO.
Hays and his team loaded up pounds of donated food Sunday morning and hit the road to Mayfield, Kentucky. Trucks are equipped with a full kitchen and have the capability to reach remote areas. While food supplies are limited this weekend, donations from other local organizations will at least feed a couple hundred people initially.
“What we can do is use that to lengthen out a little bit until our supply chain can get in,” Hays said.
The team plans to arrive southeast of the damaged area and start distributing warm meals to first responders and survivors by evening. After 11 years of disaster response, the mission of the founders remains the same — feed the lot.
“You know when a disaster happens, it takes a while for the sustaining organizations that will be there for weeks, months, maybe even years ahead helping that community, and it takes a while for the civic groups and locals to get their feet underneath them,” Hays said. “We go set up in a parking lot to compete against each other — why not go do it for good and do it together.”
Across state lines, the Heart to Heart International disaster response is on standby. A two-man advance team departed early Sunday morning to assess the need.
“Their objective is to assess if and where and how we should deploy assets such as our medical unit, which is an urgent care center on wheels, and/or what other supplies are needed,” said Kim Carroll, Heart to Heart International CEO.
Heart to Heart International provides health care, medical supplies and pop-up vaccination sites.
“Even people who were not injured in the initial tornado, for example, they are going to come back in and start cleaning up. And during that clean-up process, we see injuries," Carroll said. "One of the frequent things that we do is administer tetanus shots.”
For anyone hoping to help the cause, Heart to Heart International is asking for monetary donations on its website. Every dollar will be used to continue relief efforts for the long run.
“There’s still very active search and rescue happening, and so that's the most important thing is to find survivors,” Carroll said.