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The road to recovery begins for Kentuckians affected by the state's worst tornado outbreak

Governor's office-screenshot
Graves County Judge Jesse Perry

Recovery will be the word for days, weeks, months, and probably years for residents in Western Kentucky. Tornadoes tore through some 12 different counties there killing dozens of people. Governor Beshear has pledged state and federal support for those suffering from the historic storm.

Four separate tornadoes hit western Kentucky. the largest of which traveled more than 227 consecutives miles.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday night’s tornado system was the deadliest to ever hit Kentucky.

Beshear spoke at a press conference in Dawson Springs, saying the devastation there hit especially hard as it was the home of his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear. “It’s a special place to me. I spent about 8 hours this morning trying to make sure my cousin who was here was ok, along with her family and I am grateful but I know the outcomes are so much worse for other families,” said Beshear.

Emergency crews began work as soon as the storm subsided, but they were still working to recover bodies as of Saturday afternoon.

Officials say Dawson Springs may not have electricity for a week or more and temperatures are expected to drop below freezing overnight.

Emergency officials in all of the affected counties are urging people who are not directly involved in rendering care to stay away from these communities. But, during a stop in Bowling Green, Governor Beshear said there are ways Kentuckians can help and one is by giving blood.

The governor admitted many people struggle with ways to help in the aftermath of such destruction. The governor said a recovery fund has already been established where donations can be made. That’s teamwkyrelieffund.ky.gov.

Stories are coming in from residents directly affected by the series of tornadoes.

Kartik Patel has lived in western Kentucky his entire life. He’s a real estate agent and small business owner in Lyon County.

Following a night and early morning of severe storms, Patel went out to survey the damage. He said it was like nothing he’s ever seen before.

Wind ripped shingles and siding off homes, and that was the milder damage. “But for the ones that have more severe damage, you’re gonna see broken windows, trees falling through especially when you’re surrounded by trees. You’re seeing a ton of trees completely demolished,” said Patel.

Patel described the scene as looking like a monster had chewed through the area.

He said that he’s heard people describe the storm as historical, and he agreed. It’s something Governor Beshear said in each of his three stops in Mayfield, Dawson Springs, and Bowling Green.

At least 12 deaths have been reported in Warren County, where a tornado with winds of up to 150 miles per hour struck the town overnight.

Dozens more deaths are anticipated in Graves County.

A Mayfield, Kentucky, candle factory is expected to be the site of the largest loss of life, upwards of 60 or more, from the tornado.

None of the dead or injured have been identified yet, but at least a few of those inside on the overnight shift were hired through the Graves County Jail, where they were incarcerated.

The phone lines were down at the jail when a reporter called Saturday.

The jail acknowledged on its Facebook page that some of their inmates were at the candle factory and said one staff member had died. They didn’t identify the staff member or report on the condition of the jail workers.

Representatives of the factory, Mayfield Consumer Products, couldn't be reached for comment.

Kentucky Emergency Management director Michael Dossett remarked during one of the stops, “We’ll be with you for weeks, months, and years in this fight.”

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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