According to Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky, the largest of the tornadoes that ravaged six states and killed at least 90 people, “will ultimately be the longest tornado in U.S. history, from the time it struck until the moment she finally took. to safeguard.”
Speaking at a Sunday afternoon press conference, Mr Beshear said of the more than 220 miles of destruction from the tornado, “200 of them are in my state, with our people who have some. suffered “.
At least three tornadoes are believed to have hit Kentucky on Friday night, the governor said, adding: “I think we now believe many, many more.”
At least 300 members of the National Guard have been deployed to the state, the governor said. They go door to door, he says, even though many of these communities no longer have doors. They go from rubble to rubble, ”in search of survivors and other victims.
More than $ 2 million has been donated to help with recovery efforts, the governor said. The first installment of grants would be given to help cover funeral costs, he said.
“We are still finding bodies,” Beshear said. “I mean, we have dead dogs in towns where they shouldn’t have to be. “
Mr Beshear declined to say how many people were killed as a result of the tornadoes, but said: “We expect there will be a significant death toll.” He later added: “The wreckage is vast as we continue to try to get through it.”
Dozens of people remained missing on Sunday, but there was less hope of finding them alive as rescuers in the center of the country resumed their search efforts.
The tornadoes ravaged parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, said Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the Storm Prediction Center, which is part of the National Weather Service.
The tornado outbreak killed people who worked Friday nights at a candle factory just outside Mayfield, Ky., Where dozens are believed to have died, and at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois , where at least six people were killed. Officials in Edwardsville, Ill. Said on Sunday that there were no further reports of missing persons inside the Amazon facility, but efforts to find additional victims have stalled. pursued.
As the destruction spread throughout western Kentucky, much of the estimated death toll came from the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory near Mayfield. Officials described an almost unfathomable level of destruction in a single building there, now a concrete-and-metal node littered with cars and 55-gallon barrels leaking corrosive fluids.
Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said she walked around the town on Sunday “the morning after this horrific disaster” and saw the town’s government complex and fire station local firefighters had been destroyed.
“I don’t think there is a window in any vehicle or property owned by the city that isn’t broken,” Ms. Stewart said. She added: “There was so much rubble. I looked around the city and, as I have said before, it looked like matches. And I cried.
The Kentucky governor praised federal officials for what he said was a swift and thorough response. A federal state of emergency has been declared, the governor said, adding that it was “rare” for it to be put in place so “incredibly quickly”.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, and Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined Beshear on Sunday.
“I want to thank them all,” Beshear said at the press conference. “And start with the president, who called me three times yesterday alone.”
But the damage has spread far beyond Kentucky.
In Tennessee, at least four people have been confirmed dead, with the worst damage reported in the northwest corner of the state. In Arkansas, one person died at a Dollar General store in Leachville, and a 94-year-old man was killed when the tornado hit a nursing home in the town of Monette.
And in Missouri, at least two people have died: a woman in St. Charles County and a child in Pemiscot County.
Officials in Edwardsville, Ill., A small town across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, said at least six people were killed in an Amazon warehouse when a direct hit A tornado around 8:30 a.m. Friday night caused two of the building’s 40-foot-high concrete walls to collapse.
“We don’t expect anyone to survive,” said James Whiteford, chief of the Edwardsville fire department. The chef said the tornado came about during a shift change and it was not clear how many people would have been in the building.