A disastrous storm that spanned hundreds of miles broadsided the American Heartland Friday night and Saturday morning, dragging tornadoes across seven states and killing what are thought to be more than 100 people in Kentucky alone.
In a news conference Saturday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he was assured by the secretary of Homeland Security and White House that the state would be granted an emergency declaration from the federal government following the severe weather event. President Joe Biden later approved the emergency declaration for Kentucky with disaster relief efforts focused in the counties of Breckenridge, Bullitt, Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Hickman, Hopkins, Lyon, Meade, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Shelby, Spencer and Warren, according to a news release.
“We were pretty sure that we wouldn’t lose over 50 Kentuckians, now (we’re) certain that that number is north of 70, it may in fact end up exceeding 100 Before today is done,” Beshear said.
Beshear said it was terrible to witness the damage done at a candle factory from the storm, and said that the last survivor to be rescued there emerged between 3-4 a.m.
“It’s the building that’s flattened, it’s cars from the parking lot that’s on top of it, it’s huge metal drums — even ones with corrosive chemicals — that were inside,” Beshear said.
Gov. Beshear said that lives will likely be lost in up to 10 Kentucky counties.
“A good portion of Dawson Springs is gone, we’re standing up the National Guard to go door to door there. Muhlenberg County has lost at least ten individuals there, and it wasn’t hit as hard as some others,” Beshear said. “This is likely to be the most severe tornado outbreak in our state’s history.”
Kentucky National Guard Major General Hal Lamberton described the path of destruction that he and scores of deployed National Guardsmen began attending to Saturday.
“As this storm passed across Western Kentucky, it impacted five of our 12 counties, Fulton, Hickman, Graves, Marshall and Lyon counties,” Lamberton said. “In totality, we have approximately 170 employees across our district 1 that are out in some capacity addressing this particular storm.”
We are praying for our Western Kentucky families. 2/2— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) December 11, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot said Saturday that Texas A&M Task Force 1 will be deployed to assist with recovery efforts in Kentucky, and asked that all Texans keep Kentuckians in their thoughts.
I have authorized the deployment of @txtf1 to assist our friends in Kentucky following the deadly tornadoes that shook their state overnight.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 11, 2021
They will assist in recovery efforts.
I ask all Texans to join Cecilia & me in praying for those affected by these horrific tornadoes. pic.twitter.com/oaRa4K7xhl
At a nursing home in Arkansas, one person was killed and another 20 were trapped when the building collapsed on them, according to Craighead County Judge Marvin Day and Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Update: I am headed to Northeast Arkansas where there has been widespread property loss and 2 deaths reported from the tornado last night. 20,000 without power statewide.— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) December 11, 2021
One person died near Defiance, Missouri, as they took shelter from a passing tornado, officials said.
I want our responders and all neighbors who acted selflessly to help their neighbors stay safe to know how much their efforts are appreciated by all Missourians.— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) December 11, 2021
In Illinois, at least one person died in the collapse of an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, according to Police Chief Mike Fillback and Gov. JB Pritzker.
My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I've reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources.— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) December 11, 2021
Our @ILStatePolice and @ReadyIllinois are both coordinating closely with local officials and I will continue to monitor the situation.
Three storm-related deaths were reported in northeastern Tennessee, two in Lake County and the other in Obion County, according to Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Dean Flener.
We are working with @T_E_M_A & first responders to evaluate the impacts of severe overnight storms & are deploying resources to immediately assist communities. Maria & I pray for families, including our neighbors in Kentucky, who are facing loss of life & devastation today.— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) December 11, 2021
One of the many tornadoes from Friday night’s event could break records.
The parent supercell thunderstorm lasted for more than 250 miles. There may have been one continuous tornado associated with that or a couple. If it was one continuous tornado, meaning it never left the ground, it would be the only known tornado to cross four state lines and would be the longest in terms of distance traveled on the ground. This will have to be confirmed by the National Weather Service and may take a while because of the scope.