2011 has been an exceptionally destructive and deadly year for tornadoes–the deadliest year for tornadoes in the United States since 1936. Worldwide, at least 560 people perished due to tornadoes—546 of those in the United States, due in large part to several extremely large tornado outbreaks in April and late May.
Operation USA has worked to help in relief and recovery efforts in numerous states.
Tornado hits Tuscaloosa, AL
An extremely large and violent tornado outbreak—the largest in United States history–occurred from April 25 to 28. It produced destructive tornadoes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, and affected other areas throughout the Southern and Eastern United States. A total of 336 tornadoes were confirmed in 21 states. At least 297 people were killed—210 in Alabama alone.
The tornados left catastrophic destruction in their wake, especially across the state of Alabama. On April 27th, a massive tornado cut a six-mile swath through the community of Tuscaloosa, Alabama damaging or destroying more than 5,700 structures, and directly affecting the lives of more than 13,500 people. Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak, with April 27 being among the most prolific and destructive tornado days in United States history.
Operation USA is dedicated to the relief effort in Alabama—and has worked since the disaster to help those who have lost their homes begin the rebuilding process. Working with local partner Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa, OpUSA has provided shelter supplies including clothing, flashlights and radios.
Historic Flooding of Mississippi River
From April 14–16, the storm system also produced large amounts of rainfall across the southern and midwestern United States. Two more storm systems, each with heavy rain and tornadoes, hit in the third week of April. In the fourth week of April, from April 25–28, another, even more extensive and deadly storm system passed through the Mississippi Valley dumping more rainfall that resulted in deadly flash floods. The unprecedented extensive rainfall from these four storms, combined with springtime snow melt from the Upper Midwest, created the perfect situation for a 500-year flood along the Mississippi.
As flood waters proceeded down the Lower Mississippi from the St. Louis area (where the Missouri River and the Mississippi River converge), they affected Missouri and Illinois, then Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. President Barack Obama declared the western counties of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi federal disaster areas.
Operation USA partnered with a relief team of police officers from Colorado to help with relief efforts in Durant, Mississippi.
Tornado hits Joplin, MO
The 2011 Joplin tornado was a devastating multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri late in the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. The tornado reached a maximum width of in excess of 1 mile during its path through the southern part of the city. As of July 8, officials reported that 159 people died from the tornado, with another killed by a lightning strike during cleanup operations the next day. This was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971. It ranks as one of America’s deadliest tornadoes—and is likely to be the costliest; the cost to rebuild Joplin could reach $3 billion.
The tornado, which struck around dinnertime, crushed nearly a third of the city. It destroyed as many as 2,000 buildings, knocked out power and cellphone service for many, and damaged water treatment and sewage plants. It was the deadliest single tornado in more than half a century, and it adds to a season of particularly deadly tornadoes.
Operation USA partnered with Epic Poker to raise funds for tornado relief efforts in Joplin. Relief efforts will focus on the needs of community health clinics, alongside projects supporting children’s education.