Mayfield, KY, tornado hits candle factory, Beshear kills dozens

the tornado that ravaged Mayfield, Kentucky, left a community in mourning and crumbling overnight – flattening a candle factory with more than 100 people inside, destroying a fire station and cutting off electricity and water for miles.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear responded with tears in a moving press conference late Saturday morning as he and local officials attempted to describe the extent of the destruction they had witnessed in the community of around 10,000 people in the area southwest Kentucky.

As of Saturday afternoon, Beshear had assessed the extent of the destruction statewide, from downtown Mayfield, which was “completely devastated”, to Bowling Green, 150 miles east-northeast.

Authorities have estimated that at least four tornadoes have struck the state. Beshear said he expected double-digit death tolls, with casualties from multiple counties.

Jeremy Creason, fire chief and director of EMS at Mayfield, said that at the candle factory site, crews “sometimes had to crawl over victims to get to living victims to get them out, and mark these victims as we make our way through the rubble. It’s just a picture of what they’re dealing with there. “

The community’s main fire station was in the direct path of the tornado and was destroyed, along with the city’s police car fleet and a police station, local officials said. Surrounding communities were providing support, including 11 ambulances to assist with rescue and recovery at the plant and across the county, Creason said.

Graves County Executive Judge Jesse Perry said there was no water in the county and electricity was cut for miles around Mayfield. He repeatedly asked the Kentuckians for prayers.

Beshear said the state had sent 150 coroners as part of the mass death team designed to provide resources such as personal protective equipment, body bags, batteries and refrigerated trailers. Beshear called the storm “the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history. “

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Drone footage Saturday morning offered a glimpse of the destruction in downtown Mayfield. The brick buildings suffered extensive damage and lots were filled with debris and rubble.

Kyana Parsons-Perez, an employee of the candle factory, said she was trapped under five feet of debris for at least two hours until rescuers managed to free her.

In an interview with “TODAY“She said,” it was the “absolutely most terrifying” event she had ever experienced.

“I didn’t think I was going to get there at all,” she said.

The storms arrived Friday night and Saturday and swept through Bowling Green, Kentucky, near the Tennessee border, ripping roofs off homes and throwing debris on the roads.The governor declared a state of emergency and said the state had deployed 181 national guards soldiers, who arrived on Saturday morning.

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Beshear said the twister landed over 200 miles in Kentucky and could have resulted in deaths in 10 or more counties.

Beshear noted that although 110 workers were at the candle factory when the tornado struck around midnight, only around 40 workers had been rescued by first responders by the end of Saturday morning.

“It’s heavy machinery.… It’s the building that’s flattened. It’s cars from the parking lot above. It’s huge metal drums, even the ones with corrosive chemicals that were inside. inside. ”Beshear said.

Beshear said he was among those worried about a loved one. For hours on Saturday, a cousin was missing and feared his death. She was located later.

“I know we have lost a lot of people,” he said. “We are going to lose entire families. I think it will reach 100 children of God, irreplaceable in their communities, in their families.

“My father’s hometown of Dawson Springs, 2700 people, they’re going to lose a lot of people. One block from my grandparents’ house, there is no house standing,” Beshear said about the community roughly between Bowling Green and Mayfield. “There is no standing house, and we don’t know where these people are.”

Contribution: The Courier Journal, The Associated Press

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