As the death toll mounts and the scale of the devastation becomes more clear, the impact of a series of tornadoes this past weekend in the Midwest, and in particular Kentucky, can not be understated.
As of this morning, there are believed to be more than a hundred casualties, but that number could possibly grow beyond that as many are still unaccounted for. While Kentucky was the hardest hit, the path of devastation was some 227 miles, according to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, and included at least 50 tornadoes in seven other states, according to the National Weather Service.
Making matter worse were below freezing temperatures following the Friday night storms, which is highly unusual when it comes to tornadoes. As always, whether it’s hurricanes, tornados or any other kind of natural disasters, the hotel industry will be counted on heavily during this time of crisis to provide shelter.
For example, in Mayfield, KY, more than 1,000 area residents lost their homes in the tornado, according to USA Today and Beshear.
“Housing is going to be such a tremendous need,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
In addition to the displaced residents, many first responders will also be in need of lodging as well.
We’ve seen hoteliers come through for their communities time and time again, regardless of the crisis, so I would expect this one to be no different. To that point, at least one powerful organization is showing its commitment to making that happen.
Ken Greene, President and CEO of AAHOA [Asian American Hotel Owners Association], issued a statement on the crisis, a portion of which urged members to pitch in to the cause.
“AAHOA members in the region are encouraged to provide rooms to displaced families and first responders who are currently assessing the damage and searching for survivors. More opportunities to get involved and help the Commonwealth will be announced in the coming days after the initial search and rescue efforts can be completed.
“AAHOA is currently working alongside our state hotel and lodging association partners on disaster relief and other resources for AAHOA members who have been impacted by this weekend’s horrific events,” he stated.
The need for hotels in these locations to help out just underscores the importance of this industry to this entire country. It’s why so many influential industry executives lobbied during the days of the pandemic for additional relief to help these hotels stay open. And while there are still many hotels out there to help in such a crisis, unfortunately there aren’t as many as there used to be. In addition, those that are may not have sufficient staff to properly service guests.
But it’s not the time to focus on what we don’t have, what we do have is many hoteliers willing to pitch into the cause and be there for people when they need it most.