The American Red Cross has set up eight shelters in disaster-stricken areas in Kentucky providing relief to nearly 200 residents seeking shelter after tornadoes devastated parts of the state on Friday night, according to the nonprofit.
American Red Cross Kentucky CEO Steven Cunanan arrived to one of the worst hit cities in Mayfield early Saturday and said that a drive that should have taken him three hours, took him six.
"It was impassible, it was muddy, it was apocalyptic," Cunanan told CNN on Sunday. "It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t know the words. I don’t know how to describe this. You're looking at the news at a 3-D disaster in 2-D and it just doesn't do it justice."
Cunanan said the Red Cross’ main goal is to provide food and care to individuals displaced by the tornado.
"We have to help them get their lives back and help them get to a sense of normalcy again," he noted.
But the Red Cross is still in the early stages of assessing the magnitude and scope of that goal, Cunanan said. He said that providing shelter is a short-term solution that enables the Red Cross to bridge the gap to something more sustainable.
"The emotional toll on something like this is pretty great," Cunanan said. "I've seen that on every disaster I've been on. They're shell shocked. They don't know where to turn."
Cunanan said that many people in Mayfield are not only grieving the loss of their homes, but also their town — an area with a population of approximately 10,000.
"It is going to build back,” he said, “it's not going to be exactly the same, but it's going to be built back."
CNN's Kiely Westhoff contributed reporting to this post.