December 10 and 11, 2021, may go down as the worst tornado event in Kentucky history. As of press time, up to 100 people are feared, and thousands more are left homeless by tornadoes that tore through the state and five other states in the region.
One tornado appears to have started in the northeastern corner of Arkansas and traveled through Missouri and Tennessee, finally tearing through Kentucky, traveling over 227 miles, being the longest tornado track in history. Unfortunately, that tornado hit the city of Mayfield head-on, leaving the community devastated. In addition, the tornado hit an occupied candle factory in Mayfield, where workers have been working 24/7 to meet holiday demand.
Over 30 tornadoes were reported in six states. Unfortunately, it may be days before the final death toll will be known in Kentucky and around the country.
Photo: Kentucky Governor's Office
At 1 a.m., Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency that will continue into the foreseeable future.
In an update at 3 p.m., Governor Besher struck a hopeful note and gave Kentuckians some ideas and instruction to help the situation.
"Today, Kentucky is united," Gov. Beshear said in a written statement. "We are united with our people; united to find and rescue as many as possible; united to grieve; and united to be here for our families impacted – not just today, but in the years to come so that we can rebuild together."
The governor activated about 180 National Guard members and the Kentucky State Police to help the counties hit by the tornadoes. National Guard armories are being used as temporary housing for those in need. In addition, state employees have been called in to help clear roads and highways as quickly as possible.
Beshear has already requested a federal emergency declaration to make federal funds and resources available for recovery. "This will bring additional resources to Western Kentucky counties devastated by these tornadoes and allow for quicker reimbursements. I appreciate the President's swift response during our time of need. Now we can get to work supporting our people as we recover," said Gov. Beshear in an earlier press briefing. "The entire commonwealth is with all of Western Kentucky, and those Kentuckians impacted are in our thoughts and prayers. We will get through this together."
Also, this morning Beshear signed an executive order that prevents price gouging. The executive order prevents necessities, like gasoline, from being sold at a "grossly higher" price.
He outlined ways to help:
1 – If people are safe and have power, stay home. Don't go out on the roads. Leave the roads open for emergency services vehicles. This applies to the whole state, since emergency services teams will be called upon, as well as medical personnel who may need transportation to the affected area.
2 – Give blood. With so many injured, there will be a need for blood. The COVID-19 pandemic had already negatively affected donations. With these events, the need for blood for the injured will be greatly increased.
3 – The state has set up a relief fund so that all the money donated can move through a central location. This will allow the state to ensure that there is no fraud in the donation process and that the money goes to the people and groups that can use it most effectively. The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund is life at TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov.
In his earlier statements, Gov. Beshear shared the state's pain, its strength, and its hope.
"I want to thank every local emergency management employee, police officer, firefighter, and first responder. This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history. It's hard to put into words," said Gov. Beshear. "Remember, each of these lost lives are children of God, irreplaceable to their families and communities. But we will make it through this. We will rebuild. We are strong, resilient people – and we're going to be there every step of the way. This is one state standing strong."