LEXINGTON, Ky. — When disaster strikes, as it did in parts of western Kentucky in the form of a devastating tornado, the rush to find and contact loved ones in the aftermath can be taxing. Still, there are several recommended methods of doing so.

What You Need To Know

  • Call local law enforcement first

  • Local Red Cross chapters have several ways to help search

  • Online registries available

  • Hotlines activated in aftermath another option

There isn't a single a number or a database set up in Kentucky right now.  Gov. Andy Beshear suggests calling local emergency management agencies in your area.  

However, some specific numbers have been established in the hard hit areas of Kentucky.

Bowling Green

For those living in Bowling Green needing to check on mising people, gas leaks, serious injuries or issues with powerlines, please call 270-393-4116.

For non-emergencies such as downed lines or debris, you are asked to call 270-393-4000.

Graves County

If you need to speak to someone about doing a welfare check on someone the number is 270-856-3721.

For those wanting to make donations, His House Ministries is accepting them and their number is 270-247-7772.  The ministry has also set up an online giving form which you can find here. 

Those looking to volunteer to help should call 270-331-1979.  Many have been writing to the Graves County Sheriff's Office Facebook page saying they've have a tough time getting through.  The sheriffi's department asks everyone to be patient and remember the situation.  Things like phone calls aren't as simple as they were days ago.

Other search methods

USA.gov suggests the first step is calling local law enforcement. 

Other options include the American Red Cross, which can help locate missing loved ones if they meet specific criteria.

If a missing loved one is elderly, has a functional or access need, suffers from a medical or mental condition made more severe by the disaster, or has difficulty understanding spoken or written English, local Red Cross chapters could assist.  

A representative from local Red Cross chapters may connect you with reunification activity workers in the disaster area to assist with locating your loved one. If your missing loved one, or friend and you resided in the same home before the disaster but became separated due to evacuations or other circumstances, also reach out to your local Red Cross chapter for assistance.   

If your missing loved one does not meet one of the above criteria, the Red Cross recommends searchers be creative and persistent and employ one or all of the following methods: 

  • Call during off-peak hours for the best chance of getting through

  • Send a text message, which may go through when phone calls cannot

  • Check your loved one’s social media pages (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), as they may have already gone online to tell their story

  • Send an email

  • Call friends and relatives who may have already contacted your loved one

  • Call people and places where your loved one is well-known; neighbors, employer, school, place of worship, senior center, social club/center, union, or fraternal organization

The Red Cross also encourages people to let family and friends know they are safe by registering as “safe and well” on the agency’s website. The registry also supports the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. It allows the public to report information for children separated from their parents or guardians because of a disaster 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The National Emergency Child Locator Center (NECLC) is a hotline activated by a state’s request. When activated, people may call 1-866-908-9570 or 1-877-908-9570 to report or search for a child missing after a disaster.

The Next of Kin Registry (NOKR) is a free emergency contact system to help if a loved one is missing, injured, or has died. Only emergency agencies registered with NOKR may view your information, but they can use it to contact your family when you cannot.

Restoring Family Links is a website created by the American Red Cross through the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist family members trying to reconnect after a disaster has struck. It is available in multiple languages. The information given on the website is not confidential and can be viewed by anyone. The majority of postings on the Restoring Family Links website are from people searching for loved ones. 

Google Person Finder helps people reconnect with friends and loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters. 

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) provides emergency communication support to the Salvation Army wherever needed. SATERN members actively assist the Salvation Army during and after natural and human disasters wherever and whenever they strike.