Cascades Region volunteers sacrifice holidays with family to support those impacted by Kentucky tornadoes

A semi-truck trailer is left upside down and slammed into the ground after being lifted by tornadoes that ravaged Kentucky in December 2021. Photo by Ginny Sackett/American Red Cross.

Story by Dawn Johnson/Red Cross Cascades Region

Nearly a month after an outbreak of deadly tornadoes cut through the heart of the Midwest and South in December 2021, Red Cross volunteers from Oregon and SW Washington are still helping victims pick up the pieces.  

About two dozen volunteers from the Red Cross Cascades Region traveled to Kentucky over the holidays. They provided safe shelter, comfort, medical and mental health support after devastating tornadoes left behind a heartbreaking trail of destruction in mid-December.  

Brandon Liles, a Red Cross volunteer from Dallas, Oregon, went to Kentucky to help distribute emergency supplies but after seeing the massive devastation firsthand he decided to extend his two-week deployment and offer his help wherever he could. 

“There’s sadness, there’s loss but there is a strong sense of community, compassion and love here,” shares Brandon. 

Some 440 trained Red Cross volunteers from all over the Country remain on the ground today as hundreds of families are still displaced from their homes. Our volunteers are working alongside state officials and other community organizations to support those staying in emergency shelters and other temporary accommodations, such as state park lodges and hotel rooms. 

A memorial to tornado victims is set up in Mayfield, Kentucky following deadly tornadoes that devastated the area in December 2021. Photo by Ginny Sackett/American Red Cross.

With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 81,100 meals and snacks, distributed more than 51,200 relief items, and provided more than 9,900 individual care contacts, through volunteers like Ginny Sackett of Bend, Oregon to help people with medical or disability needs, as well as emotional and spiritual support. 

“Community members were really responsive to our Red Cross teams’ efforts. Often, in the first few days, they wanted to talk about how they survived the disaster,” recalls Ginny. 

The Red Cross has served more than 3,300 people through casework by helping to create plans for their individual recovery. People whose homes were destroyed and have disaster-related health or mental health issues, or have limited access to other recovery resources, may be eligible to receive Red Cross financial assistance. 

Two long-time Kentucky Red Cross volunteers stand alongside Ginny Sackett of Bend, Oregon (right) while supporting those impacted by the devastating tornadoes that touched down in Kentucky in December 2021. Photo submitted by Ginny Sackett.

Prior to the tornado outbreak, the nation was already facing historically low blood inventory challenges — and more donors are needed to make appointments now to ensure a readily available blood supply. We depend on generous volunteer blood donors to provide lifesaving blood for those in need each day. Schedule your appointment to donate by visiting, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

If you’d like to become a volunteer with Red Cross Cascades, sign up at

Thank you to all our volunteers who deployed to Kentucky. 

Danielle B., Beaverton, OR 

Julianne B., Longview, WA 

Judi C., Gold Beach, OR 

Dorothy D., Portland, OR 

Laurel D., Philomath, OR

Kathleen E., Portland, OR 

Kimberly F., Gresham, OR 

Carol G., Beaverton, OR 

Frances H., Salem, OR 

Thor H., Medford, OR 

Karyn J., Brookings, OR 

Jean K., Gold Beach, OR 

Victoria L., Portland, OR 

Brandon L., Dallas, OR 

Diana M., McMinnville, OR 

Casey M., Eugene, OR 

Ralph N., Grants Pass, OR 

Sandra R., Portland, OR 

Ginny S., Bend, OR 

Kathleen S., Central Point, OR 

Alan U., Corvallis, OR 

Valerie V., Dallas, OR 

Tina W., Tigard, OR