CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Its been boots on the ground in West Virginia for the American Red Cross following last week’s storm that led to at least five confirmed tornadoes.

Since the series of severe storms that hit the region on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, the Red Cross of the Central Appalachian Region has responded to impacted residents across 11 counties and are currently approaching a total of 70 cases where their assistance has been needed.

Red Cross Regional CEO Erica Mani told MetroNews that one week later, they continue to open more and more cases from residents asking for help regarding damages they received to their homes and properties following the aftermath of that storm.

Erica Mani

She said the devastation was shocking, but their teams got out to the affected locations as soon as it was safe to do so.

“We were opening shelters on night one and working with community partners, and additionally, by day two we were out in the field doing damage assessments and meeting with those families and individuals, just seeing the devastation, and doing everything we could to bring hope,” Mani told MetroNews.

Mani said the assistance the Red Cross has provided affected residents have consisted of case work, financial support, and ensuring they have anything from medicines to glasses they need that were lost in the storm’s destruction.

So far, the National Weather Service has confirmed there were a total of ten tornadoes following last week’s storm, with seven of them touching down in locations in West Virginia. The most recently reported tornadoes landing occurred in Huntington near the Cabell-Wayne county line, as well as two more in Eastern Kanawha County. The NWS said the other previously confirmed West Virginia locations were also three others in Kanawha County and one in Fayette County.

Mani said Boone, Calhoun, Harrison, Lincoln, and Putnam counties were also severely impacted, as well as two counties in Ohio and one in Kentucky.

The Red Cross has also been out in Hancock County, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Wood and two Ohio counties responding to the severe flooding that has taken place along the Ohio River.

She said the impacts have been widespread, with the larger number of cases being within Kanawha and Fayette counties where most of the tornadoes touched.

Mani said while the Red Cross responds to disasters of all kind– from floods to fires– it’s always shocking when a storm of this magnitude hits the Appalachian region as its damage never discriminates.

“You know, it’s across everyone we’ve helped, the stories are individualized, you know, it’s different families, different individuals with all of their various stories, but the devastation is just the same,” she said.

Mani said they even had to assist one of their cherished Red Cross partners, the Fire Chief of the Nutall Volunteer Fire Department in Fayette County, after his home was destroyed following the tornado which hit the small community of Lavista.

She said it was heartbreaking to have to assist someone who helps so many others in times of need, but she said it was also heartwarming to be able to turn to someone who really knows the work that it takes.

“Being able to help, not only a first responder, but also have the thanks to the team, because they really understand,” Mani said.

Mani said they not only see it as their mission to provide financial support and assist in replacing needed physical belongings to those impacted, but they also look at themselves as a source of comfort and emotional support, as well.

She said they know just how emotionally draining such as disaster can be.

“We know that people are hurting and going through so much right now because of this devastation, and we hope that our Red Cross teams can bring some comfort and support during this time of need,” she said.

Mani said the Red Cross’s work in the affected areas following the storm is ongoing, and immediate needs are continuing to be met right now.

She said they also have the help from several community partners as they continue to go out in the field and assist people.

“We thank all of the partners, first responders, and organizations active in disaster, because it takes a whole community to come together and help when any of us go through these crises,” said Mani.

Mani said if anyone wants to be a part of their volunteer efforts at the Red Cross, or donate any money to ensure they can continue their work in the affected areas, they can call the Red Cross at 1(800)733-2767 or call their local office in Charleston at (304)340-3650.

WVRC Media, parent company of WCHS Radio, along with Huntington Bank, are encouraging donations on Friday to help with the relief efforts.