FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Kentucky Emergency Management director Michael Dossett gave an update this morning on the tornado that hit parts of western Kentucky Friday night into Saturday morning.
The devastating tornado crossed through parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky destroyed homes, belongings, and killed at least 50 people. Beshear has declared a state of emergency in the counties impacted and reached out to President Joe Biden seeking federal assistance to the area.
Gracia Szczech with the Federal Emergency Management Agency says Biden did declare a major declaration that included the eight Kentucky counties of Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor and Warren. According to Szczech, FEMA will work with officials in Kentucky to assess other counties hit by the storms and get them added into the declaration.
“What this means is that there is assistance for individuals, for homeowners, for renters. They need to apply for FEMA assistance. The administrator did say yesterday the first line of defense is insurance. Make sure if you have insurance you’ve already called them. We also encourage everyone to apply for FEMA assistance,” Szczech said.
Individuals and business owners who experienced losses can apply for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov. The state has also started a relief fund for those impacted. Those who want to donate to that fund can visit TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov.
Officials say it will be days before the National Weather Service can confirm if this was one tornado or multiple tornadoes. According to radar data, the tornado, or tornadoes, may have been on the ground for 100 miles.
According to the governor, 105 Kentuckians are currently missing. Beshear says Kentucky State Police ask that those trying to find their missing loved ones report to the office building of His House Ministries at 1250 KY 303 in Mayfield to provide a reference to law enforcement for identification.
Beshear says 94 of the 110 employees from the Mayfield Candle Factory are alive and accounted for. Eight employees have been confirmed dead and eight more are still missing.