msnbc.com news services
updated 5/5/2011 2:30:50 PM ET 2011-05-05T18:30:50

Toyota on Thursday pledged a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts for victims of the outbreak of tornadoes that killed at least 328 people across seven states in late April.

The auto company also said it would match employees' charitable contributions to the American Red Cross, while providing additional support and assistance to those Toyota employees who have lost their homes.

"All of us at Toyota express our sincere condolences to the families affected by these devastating storms," said Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. "Since we have manufacturing plants, suppliers and many dealerships in the regions that were hit the hardest, we felt a special responsibility to lend a hand."

Thousands were thrown out of work by the nation's deadliest tornado outbreak since the Depression. Hundreds of factories and other businesses were destroyed, and many others were left without electricity.

The financial and economic toll is still being tallied, but officials in hardest-hit Alabama — which had more than two-thirds of the dead — said the damage there alone could rival the $1 billion in insured losses the state suffered in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Among those companies hit was a a Toyota engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., with 800 employees. That facility lost power and was knocked out of commission when a twister damaged electrical transmission lines.

Inaba praised Toyota employees who are helping to rebuild their communities and volunteering to support relief efforts. "We very much appreciate their personal engagement," Inaba said.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: Volunteers come to Alabama’s aid

  1. Closed captioning of: Volunteers come to Alabama’s aid

    >>> the american south is of course suffering through another disaster, and once again we're hearing that name, fema, in the rush to get relief to folks in the tornado zone, where we were late last week. this time they are trying to do things right. nbc's ron mott reports on some hard-hit communities in alabama .

    >> did you find something?

    >> a picture my son made.

    >> reporter: on a dreary day in tuscaloosa christie and scott greki are looking on the bright side.

    >> a picture my 2-year-old son drew for us.

    >> reporter: though their rental is flat end they're building another new house that could be ready in eight weeks.

    >> at least we have that to go to and to look forward to. it's just going to be two months in a hotel.

    >> reporter: today christie applied for federal aid at a fema registration center, one of 23,000 tornado victims to do so in alabama .

    >> fema's done a great job of getting information out there on how victims can get in touch with fema.

    >> reporter: with at least 20 shelters open around the state and emergency supplies and food making their ways to those in damaged neighborhoods, residents are largely giving thumbs up to the overall response effort, an effort covering a lot of ground. from the destruction in tuscaloosa to small towns to the north hit just as hard. here in the outlying less populated areas there perhaps are a few more challenges but the response has been just as active. tornado victims have been streaming in since over the weekend, and volunteers hope much-needed donations will continue to flow in as well. but there are those in remote locations like elbert nixon of haileyville who feel left out.

    >> the only people that's been up through here is volunteers or family members to help people.

    >> reporter: fema's administrator, who toured the devastation, acknowledged his agency hasn't made it around to all affected areas just yet.

    >> in this case getting everybody in to get out there is taking us a little bit longer but we're coming.

    >> reporter: people like the grekis are waiting.

    >> i feel really good about the future. i mean, so many people have come forward to us and i mean immediately following the storm we had help right off the bat.

    >> reporter: others are waiting, too. optimistic about what lie ahead, the worst they hope behind them. ron mott, nbc news, hamilton, alabama .

Interactive: 2011 tornado season

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