At least 50 people have lost their lives after multiple tornadoes ripped their way across the United States late Friday night and early Saturday morning. These states included Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, according to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center.
At least 24 tornadoes were reported, but there could have been more. Along with the tornados, severe wind gusts and hail warnings were reported as of early Saturday morning. According to poweroutage.us, more than 300,000 people are currently without power.
At a briefing held on early Saturday morning, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear stated that “We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives.” He called the series of storms “the most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history.”
CNN affiliate WLKY revealed that the worst destruction was in Graves County, where the town of Mayfield was the hardest hit. 110 people were inside a candle factory when the tornado struck, and Beshear stated that “We believe we’ll lose at least dozens of those individuals.”
State Emergency Management Director Michael Dorsett added that search and rescue efforts had already begun, calling last night’s tornados a “significant, massive disaster event.”
Death Tolls Rise In Multiple States, More Fatalities Reported
— Derek Van Dam (@VanDamCNN) December 11, 2021
Although Kentucky seems to be the hardest hit, death tolls are starting to rise as search and rescue efforts get underway. CNN reporters spoke with multiple officials to try to determine the number of fatalities after the devastating storm.
Mayor Bob Blankenship revealed that at least one person was killed in northern Arkansas after a tornado damaged a nursing home in Monette. At least 20 individuals were injured in the facility after being trapped inside.
In the nearby town of Leachville, Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook revealed that at least one adult female was killed inside a Dollar General store “when the storm hit and they could not get out.”
Several towns experienced damage to buildings and highways as overturned vehicles littered the streets of Arkansas, according to Arkansas Emergency Management spokesperson LaTresh Woodruff. She added that the town of Trumann off Interstate 555 also experienced damage to nursing homes, EMS facilities, and the town’s fire department.
Obion County Sheriff’s Office Dispatcher Judy Faulkner described the town of Samburg in northwest Tennessee as “pretty well flattened” after describing extensive damage to multiple buildings.
Amazon Warehouse Struck, Undisclosed Number Of Fatalities Reported
The Graves County Emergency Management Office says if you live in Mayfield and can walk safely, you should head to Fire Station House 1 at 211 E Broadway street. There will be buses to help transport people. @JackKaneWPSD shared these photos of some of the damage there. pic.twitter.com/YJUQv5HnoD
— WPSD Local 6 (@WPSDLocal6) December 11, 2021
According to the Edwardsville Police Department, an Amazon warehouse northeast of St. Louis, Illinois, was also damaged and fatalities have been confirmed. The police department said that “Efforts are being made to notify next of kin at this time.”
One local resident told CNN affiliate KMOV that a family member had been trapped inside and that emergency response teams were on hand to try to free people from the rubble after the warehouse was partially collapsed by the storm.
Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said that “It’s devastating to see the amount of damage there and to know there were people inside when that happened.” They do not know how many people were inside the building when it collapsed and they still do not know how many people are currently trapped inside. The number of fatalities has not yet been disclosed.
Search and rescue efforts are expected to continue throughout the day; however, tornado watches throughout the region are expected as of Saturday morning as the system moves east, stretching from Louisiana up through Ohio on Saturday morning. Strong wind gusts, isolated tornadoes, and hail are expected to continue.