Kentucky Gov. declares state of emergency after lethal twister

People search a tornado-damaged building in Mayfield, Kentucky on December 11, 2021.

Brett Carlsen | Getty Images

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early Saturday morning and asked President Joe Biden for federal aid after a deadly overnight storm struck bluegrass state.

“It’s devastating,” said Beshear during one press conference, added that he had activated the National Guard in Kentucky. More than 180 guardsmen are stationed in areas in western Kentucky, the hardest-hit part of the state.

Beshear said early estimates put the Kentucky death toll at 50, but said it could likely rise “well north of it”. He advised residents who are safe to avoid areas and streets where crews are helping with emergency operations.

A Outbreak of at least 30 tornadoes left a great trail of destruction. A twister swept through four states and carved at least a 220-mile trail, counting it among the longest tornadoes in US history if it stayed on the ground.

Beshear said the tornado that struck through western Kentucky hit the town of Mayfield before moving northeast through Benton, Princeton, Beaver Dam and expiring into towns in Breckinridge County. The governor said more than 100 people worked at a candle factory in Mayfield during the storm. The facility was razed to the ground and is said to be the site of “mass victims”.

Bowling Green, home of Western Kentucky University, was also badly damaged as well canceled opening ceremonies planned for Saturday.

“Significant tornado damage in the area affects the networks and telephone lines of the WKU. The WKU is in contact with all employees of the dormitory and there are no reported injuries on campus,” said a statement from the university.

President Biden was briefed on the storms and said in a statement Saturday morning that he was “in contact with state and local officials as the survivor search and damage assessments continue”.

Biden will be leaving Wilmington, Delaware, to comment on the storms at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell issued a statement following the devastating tornadoes in his home state.

“I pray for the lives hit by the tornado devastation across the Commonwealth and for the communities affected. Many thanks to the first responders and the National Guard for their courageous work in the midst of this tragedy. ” McConnell wrote on Saturday.

“As I continue to receive reports from my staff, local and state officials, we will work with the entire Kentucky federal delegation to support Governor Andy Beshear’s request for federal aid to help these hard-hit communities with the funds and resources to that they need.” rebuild, “he added.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul issued a separate statement Saturday saying his team is working with local and state officials.

“Our hearts are broken for all of those who suffer from last night’s terrible storms. I and my team will do everything in our power to assist local and state officials in responding immediately and will aggressively assist families, businesses and officials with access to recovery resources, ”Paul wrote.