Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear gave another update on Monday afternoon after the devastating tornado ripped through the state on Friday evening into early Saturday morning. At least 74 deaths have been confirmed in Kentucky alone. An estimated 109 people are still unaccounted for.
Beshear reassured the public that they were doing all they can to search and rescue, sending out MPs and chaplain brigades to augment law enforcement, saying “the new requests that we’re getting are for MPs, that’s needed help on the law enforcement side, and then on the engineering side as well.”
“FEMA – their priorities are to support life-saving and life-sustaining action,” he continued. “They’re working with all of us in every level of government. They are also sending disaster housing experts to work with our teams in the field which were hit the hardest.”
He also revealed the cadaver dogs are on the ground in Mayfield and other counties, although he admitted “We never thought we would need them.”
“Mobile emergency response teams are in Kentucky including two emergency response vehicles with emergency communication capabilities,” he added. They are staged and ready to deploy in “what were” neighborhoods. He reported that they will be talking with families, recording the damage, and working on processing their claims. The Salvation Army is also serving meals and providing emotional support.
They are also continuing to do welfare checks and working with law enforcement and chief medical officers to assist in victim identification.
Kentucky Governor Goes Over Safety Guidelines: ‘Document Everything’
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says he’s “not doing so well today” while giving an emotional update after deadly tornadoes ripped through parts of the state. pic.twitter.com/CbqioCr18l
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 13, 2021
During the press conference, Beshear encouraged residents to take photos of the property and the damage they sustained. He encourages individuals to document everything they can, which will help the ongoing claims process for public assistance.
He also encouraged people to not touch power lines and to stay safe while they are cleaning up. Beshear also provided resources for those who wanted to help aid those suffering in the wake of the record-breaking tornado.
Some senior centers have been devasted and cannot prepare food. “That’s how mean this weather event was,” he joked, but said that other senior centers have stepped up to send food, which they hope will be able to be distributed shortly to families that need it.
They are also working on verifying the information from the candle factory. Right now, there are only eight workers confirmed dead, which he describes as a “Christmas miracle.” He asks for all employees to check-in at His House Ministries Church in Mayfield to make sure all employees are accounted for, or call 888-880-8620 if transportation to that location is unavailable. That number is solely for workers of the Kentucky Candle Factory. “We need to know these people are alive and safe,” he added.
For outside donations of food, clothes, and supplies, the contact for Grace County Emergency Management is 270-727-5114. Volunteers can also sign up at surveyhero.com/c/viuf4h7p. However, he encouraged that people “be patient” with their response, as he revealed they have received an “overwhelming” number of people who want to help.
The Paducah Police Department will also accept donations of food and supplies as well. They can be reached at 270-444-8590.
Kentucky State Parks Will Admit Anyone Looking For A Place To Stay
A heartwarming story of hope we all need today:
When Kerry Gardner saw the destroyed Mayfield water tower, he thought his friends Pancho and Janette Gaicki, who lived just under it, were surely killed.
Then, he saw Pancho being interviewed on The Weather Channel ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/wmcvSt1BS2
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) December 13, 2021
Governor Beshear also revealed that they are taking people in at state parks for people who cannot stay in their homes.
They are offering a minimum of two weeks’ stay to those whose residence was destroyed by the tornado. He said that they would provide room availability as of 1 PM today. He said that there were still several rooms available in different state parks, including Kenlake, Kentucky Dam Village, Rough River Dam, and Lake Barkley State Parks. They also had hook-up outlets for washers and dryers and the parks would accept donations to receive those items if anyone was willing to donate them.
He said that if there are signs that they are not accepting anyone, to contact their local emergency management office. They are looking for volunteers to help assist the staff there, but he added that “We are not going to not accept people that need help.”
Additionally, Michael Dosset revealed that many people are still out of power. He said that the “massive” transmission towers “have buckled” and that will take “weeks to months” to put back together but he hopes to have power restored to a majority of communities in the coming days to weeks, depending on the county.