Donations aid victims of tornadoes in Kokomo

GREENFIELD — Fortville firefighters collected hundreds of bottles of water and other household items during a weekend donation drive to help Hoosiers displaced by recent tornadoes.

The Fortville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department and its women’s auxiliary group organized the drive over the weekend, collecting non-perishable food, water, toilet paper and other necessities from residents who felt called to help those in need.

Volunteers then drove the supplies to Kokomo on Sunday so they could be distributed to families affected by last week’s storms, said Ashley McCoy, a member of the fire department’s women’s auxiliary group.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least seven tornadoes hit Indiana last week during a series of severe storms.

Five tornadoes touched down in central Indiana and two others in northeastern Indiana on Wednesday, including an EF3 tornado that swept through Kokomo, packing winds as high as 152 miles per hour, the Associated Press reported.

The storm destroyed a Starbucks coffee shop and tore apart numerous homes, though no one was seriously injured.

McCoy organized the donation drive after seeing photographs of the damage. The images were shocking, she said, with trees tossed across the roadway in front of crumpled houses and the businesses.

McCoy felt the need to do something to help, she said. So, she rallied together the Fortville fire department, where her husband works.

“That could easily have been any of us,” McCoy said, “… and firefighters are supposed to help.”

The fire department used social media to reach out to community members, seeking donations to help needy Kokomo families, and throughout the weekend, donations were dropped off at the fire station in downtown Fortville.

Jeff McCoy, the fire department’s assistant chief, said he was impressed by how well-received the donation drive was by the community, especially with such short notice – proof of residents’ eagerness to help others.

Sunday, volunteers packed the donations and drove them to a Kokomo fire station. The goods will be handed over to the Howard County Emergency Management Agency to be disturbed as needed, organizers said.

Organizations like the American Red Cross and the United Way of Howard County are accepting monetary donations to help victims. For the information, dial 211, officials said.

How to help

Organizations including the American Red Cross and United Way of Howard County are accepting donations to aid victims of last week’s tornadoes. For more information on how you can help, dial 211.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.