More Than $6.5 Million Raised To Help Families in Tornado-Ravaged Kentucky

More than $6 million has been raised in donations to help those in Kentucky affected by devastating tornadoes.

Donors contributed $6,258,267.91 to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, Governor Andy Beshear's office said in a news release on Monday. The fund will initially help families cover funeral expenses of those who died in last Friday's storms.

At least 74 people have been confirmed dead in Kentucky after one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S history saw twisters tear through several states. Kentucky was hardest hit, with at least eight of the dead in a Mayfield candle factory that was leveled.

"I grew up in Mayfield, Kentucky and Mayfield is still where I call home today," Chris Vogt wrote on a GoFundMe page that has collected more than $59,000 in donations so far.

"I was speechless when I saw the pictures and videos of the damage. I want to be able to help those that were affected in anyway possible. Every little bit you are able to donate helps."

Vogt's page and other GoFundMe fundraisers have raised more than $250,000 to help those affected by the tornadoes.

Students at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine set up a GoFundMe fundraiser over the weekend that has quickly amassed more than $103,000 in donations.

"This is incredible! We are so thankful for all of the support we've received, and for each of your donations," Abbigayle Rawls, who set up the fundraising page, wrote in an update.

"This will go so far to help so many people in our communities. We will be working closely with our local schools in each city, as well as other organizations including our local refugee and international outreach organizations that are providing aid to our community to ensure that we can help as many people as possible."

Heavy damage in Mayfield after tornado
Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

GoFundMe.org, an independent nonprofit organization, also launched a GoFundMe page that has collected more than $85,000.

"Homes, churches, and businesses have been obliterated overnight. Immediate help is needed for these communities," a post on the page said. "Your tax deductible donation to this general fund will go directly to nonprofit organizations and verified GoFundMe fundraisers created for those impacted. Will you help us get money directly into the hands of those in need of support?"

At a news conference on Monday, Beshear said it could take a while to get the final death toll. "With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives," he said.

He said state parks had been opened to shelter those whose homes were destroyed. "We're not going to let any of our folks go homeless," Beshear said.

Newsweek has contacted Beshear's office and the GoFundMe organizers for additional comment.