Kentucky tornado: Power in some tornado-stricken areas may take months to restore as attention turns to recovery


A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night in Mayfield, one of the hardest-hit towns in western Kentucky, a region where at least 74 people lost their lives. Amidst prayers and hymns, pastors from area churches spoke about those who had been lost and the challenges facing those who have survived.

By Monday, electric power was restored to about 10,000 Kentucky customers, according to state emergency management director Michael Dossett, and roughly 18,500 outages are active.

These figures do not even include Mayfield, a town of 10,000 people, which he said, “doesn’t exist.” Power in the town will take “weeks and months” to rebuild, he said.

At least 14 others were killed in Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri. An estimated 50 tornadoes touched down in eight states across the central US on Friday night and Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said more than 500 members of the National Guard were on the ground assisting with tasks, including search-and-extraction, clearing routes and traffic control.

Short and long-term FEMA recovery teams are in Kentucky, Dossett said. The agency has begun the “blue tarp process” of covering damaged homes and is also in the process of debris removal, he added.

Two teams from FEMA will work Wednesday to assess storm damage in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. At least 300 structures were impacted by the storms, he said, with 61 “totally destroyed.”

President Joe Biden is expected to arrive in Kentucky on Wednesday to meet with victims and survey the damage, the White House said.

The President will ensure “that we’re doing everything to deliver assistance as quickly as possible to impacted areas to support recovery efforts,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. “He wants those on the ground to know the federal government is there to provide whatever support is needed for them.”

A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday in Mayfield, Kentucky.

‘I was definitely being crushed’

Mayfield is the scene of some of the most extensive damage, where more than 100 employees working at a candle factory were caught in the path of a tornado. At least eight people there died as the building was ripped asunder.

Jim Douglas was in so much pain as he lay crushed beneath what he believes was 15 feet of debris that he was “praying that God would take me.” Then rescue workers reached him.

“They’re heroes. And not because they saved me, it’s because they saved a lot of people,” Douglas told CNN.

Kentucky candle factory survivor said a supervisor told him he would be fired if he left ahead of the storm. A company spokesperson denied the claim

In an interview from his hospital bed, where he’s recovering from nerve damage and slowly gaining back the use of his arms and legs, Douglas described how an interior wall fell on top of him, hitting him in the head and throwing him to the ground.

“It was so quick. It was like different layers would come down and I could feel my body would like compact more,” he said. “I was definitely being crushed.”

When rescue workers arrived about an hour later, “they couldn’t have done a better job of extracting me,” he said.
Douglas, who has worked at the factory for two and a half years, thought about leaving as the storm approached but decided to ride it out at the factory after talking with his family.

He said once he heals, he plans to resume working.

“Eventually I’m going to be walking and I’ll be working somewhere, I promise you that,” Douglas said.

Cleanup efforts in Mayfield, Kentucky, continue following deadly storms.

Deaths reported include 2-month-old

Additional deaths are being reported in western Kentucky following the string of storms.

Two-month-old Oaklynn Koon died Monday morning from the injuries she sustained when a tornado hit her grandmother’s home in Dawson Springs, her paternal grandmother Audrey Carman told CNN.

The infant, her two brothers, and her parents were sheltering at her maternal grandmother’s house when the tornado hit.

Koon’s parents tried to protect their children by making them hide in the bathtub and covering them with couch cushions, but the tornado picked up the home and the family landed on the other side of the neighbor’s house, Carman said.

“We didn’t have much time with her, but we loved the time we got to spend with her,” Carman told CNN.

Family of five and their grandmother are confirmed dead in the Kentucky tornado

About 70 miles east of Dawson Springs, six family members lost their lives when a tornado hit their home in Bowling Green, a relative told CNN.

Rachael Brown, 36, and Steven Brown, 35, were with their four kids and Rachael’s mother, Victoria Smith, 64, when a tornado hit their home.

The three adults and three of the children — Nariah Cayshelle, 16, Nolynn, 8, and Nyles, 4 — were killed in the tornado, Rachael Brown’s aunt, Dornicho Jackson McGee, told CNN. The couple’s 13-year-old daughter is still missing.

“They were very family-oriented. They loved their family. They loved their kids,” McGee said.

Officials are welcoming efforts to help those in need. The Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund has raised more than $9.89 million dollars for Kentuckians, Gov. Beshear announced Tuesday. Donations can be made on their website.

CNN’s Brynn Gingras, Sarah Boxer, Caroll Alvarado, Jenn Selva, Tina Burnside, Nikki Carvajal, Amy Simonson and Joseph Bonheim contributed to this report.

Source : Nbcnewyork