Indiana charities and groups help relief efforts in Kentucky after devastating tornadoes

NOW: Indiana charities and groups help relief efforts in Kentucky after devastating tornadoes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Relief efforts are taking place after a series of tornadoes tore through several Southern states, with over-one hundred killed-- seventy-four of them in the state of Kentucky.

Stefan Radelich, President of Feed the Hungry in South Bend, said "One of the best things that can happen right now for the people of Kentucky is to know they’re not alone, that others are coming to rally to their aid.”

Feed the Hungry has worked to provide for communities all over the world, and is offering ready-to-eat food, water and supplies-- four semi-trailers worth-- to the people who have been affected by the tornadoes. 

“It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling because having done this for thirty years, Feed the Hungry has been around with disaster emergency relief," Radelich said. "We know the loss and not just he loss of life, but the loss of belongings and possessions. It’s a very very sorrowful thing.”

But it's not just providing the essentials-- people from Indiana are there on the ground, helping with the recovery efforts. 

It's never a happy day when disasters like this occur," said Ryan Cusak, a K-9 search specialist with Indiana Task Force 1. "But this is what we trained for and we’re absolutely ready to help when we’re called.”

Cusak, from Crown Point, Indiana, has been with Indiana Task Force 1-- a highly trained emergency response group-- for eight years, and has been on six deployments, helping with relief and recovery efforts during Hurricane Florence as well as the Surfside apartment collapse.

He's currently in Mayfield, Kentucky, searching for survivors in the wreckage and is thankful knowing he's making a difference. 

“The reaction that we get from the people in the area that we respond to—that really makes us know we’re having an impact," he said. "Everybody on this team wants to get out and do the work and make a difference every time, and that’s really what powers us through this.”

Radelich and Cusak both encouraged anyone who may be interested in helping the people who may have been affected by the tornadoes, in any way they can.

“I would just encourage any of the people listening right now to get plugged in where you feel you want to or where you can,” said Radelich.

“If people back home want to make a difference here, making donations to bona fide organizations is probably the best bet,” said Cusak, who also stressed the need for people to be prepared in case disaster strikes.

“God forbid, if this worst day happens, you’re better able to survive, so that when we come to town, we can check on you, say ‘hello’ and then move onto the next one," he said. "Being able to help yourself goes a really long way and we really see that a lot down here with the way the community takes care of each other and they’ve been taking care of themselves. So when we show up, it’s just that little bit of help that gets them through the day.”

The state of Kentucky established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to help directly assist the people affected by the tornadoes. 

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