Home Correction journal Kentucky hardest hit as storms kill dozens in 5 states – Marin...

Kentucky hardest hit as storms kill dozens in 5 states – Marin Independent Journal

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By BRUCE SCHREINER and JIM SALTER

MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) – A monstrous tornado, carving a trail that could rival the longest on record, swept through the central United States in a storm front that killed dozens and destroyed a candle factory, crashed a nursing home, derailed a train, and destroyed an Amazon warehouse.

“I pray that there is another rescue. I pray there are one or two more, ”Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said as crews searched the wreckage of the candle factory in Mayfield, where 110 people worked Friday night. when the storm hit. Forty of them were rescued.

“Sometimes we had to crawl over the injured to find living victims,” said Jeremy Creason, the city’s fire chief and director of EMS.

In Kentucky alone, 22 were confirmed dead on Saturday afternoon, including 11 in Bowling Green and surrounding areas. But Beshear said more than 70 people may have been killed when a tornado touched down for more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) in his state and the death toll could possibly exceed 100 in 10 or more counties. .

The death toll of 36 in five states includes six people in Illinois, where an Amazon facility was affected; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a retirement home was destroyed; and two in Missouri.

If the first reports are confirmed, the tornado “will likely become one of the longest violent tornadoes in US history,” said Victor Gensini, extreme weather researcher at Northern Illinois University.

The longest tornado on record, in March 1925, traveled approximately 355 kilometers through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. But Gensini said that tornado could have touched down for nearly 250 miles (400 kilometers). The storm was all the more remarkable since it came in December, when the normally colder weather limits tornadoes, he said.

Debris of destroyed buildings and ragged trees blanketed the ground in Mayfield, a town of about 10,000 people in western Kentucky. Twisted metal sheets, fallen power lines and wrecked vehicles lined the streets. Windows and roofs were blown off the buildings still standing.

Among those missing at the candle factory was Janine Denise Johnson Williams, a 50-year-old mother of four whose family members watched over the site on Saturday.

“It’s Christmas and she works at a place that makes candles for gifts,” said her brother, Darryl Williams. “To give up the gift of life in order to make a donation. We haven’t heard anything, and I’m not presuming anything. But I expect the worst.

He said Johnson Williams called her husband overnight to let him know the weather was getting bad the last time anyone heard from her.

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, a factory worker, was trapped under 5 feet (about 1.5 meters) of debris for at least two hours until rescuers managed to free her.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today”, she said it was “absolutely the most terrifying event” she has ever experienced. “I didn’t think I was going to make it at all.”

Just before the tornado hit, the building lights flashed. She felt a gust of wind, her ears started to crack and then, “Boom.” Everything fell on us. People started screaming and she heard other workers praying.

Kentucky State Troop Sarah Burgess said rescue teams were using heavy equipment to move rubble from the candle factory. Coroners were called to the scene and the bodies were recovered, but she was unsure how many. She said it could take a day and potentially longer to clear all the rubble.

Rescue efforts were complicated as the main fire station and emergency services center in Mayfield were also affected by the tornado, Creason said.

After a wall collapsed at a nursing home in Mayfield, Vernon Evans said he rushed to help firefighters get people out, only to find a resident lying dead within inches of water.

“All I could do was sit there and hold their heads up high,” he said. “I have never experienced anything like this.”

President Joe Biden approved a declaration of emergency disaster for Kentucky on Saturday and pledged to support affected states.

“I promise you that no matter what, no matter what, the federal government will find a way to provide it,” Biden said.

Six people were killed in the Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville, Ill., And another injured worker was airlifted to a hospital, Fire Chief James Whiteford said.

Investigators searched the rubble throughout the day for additional casualties and 45 people survived, Whiteford said. Authorities were unsure on Saturday night if anyone was still missing because workers were changing shifts when she was hit by the tornado around 8:30 p.m. Friday.

“This is a devastating tragedy for our Amazon family and our goal is to support our employees and partners,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement.

The Union of Retailers, Wholesalers and Department Stores, which tried to organize workers at an Amazon plant in Alabama, criticized the company for keeping the Illinois site open during a weather emergency.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office said the storms have killed at least two people in the state and initial estimates indicate they have destroyed or caused significant damage to hundreds of homes and buildings.

Workers at a National Weather Service office had to take refuge when a tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring, Missouri, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of St. Louis.

“It was an incredible storm that lasted a long time and covered a lot of territory,” said Larry Vannozzi, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s office covering the Nashville area.

Meteorologists have not determined whether the storm produced a single tornado or multiple tornadoes, he said.

In Arkansas, a tornado struck a retirement home in Monette, killing one and trapping 20 people inside as the building collapsed, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day told the Associated Press.

Another person died when the storm hit a Dollar General store near Leachville, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.

“The most remarkable thing is probably that there isn’t a greater loss of life,” Hutchinson said after visiting the wreckage of the nursing home. ” It’s catastrophic. It is total destruction.

Governor Bill Lee visited tornado-torn areas of western Tennessee on Saturday, in which four people were killed.

Lee traveled to Tiptonville and then to Dresden, a small town of around 3,000 that saw its downtown corridor in tatters.

“It’s just about the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Lee, who suffered three fatal tornadoes in the state during his first term. “The whole town, the whole town. “

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Dylan Lovan in Mayfield, Seth Borenstein in Washington, DC; Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee; Kimberlee Kruesi in Dresden, Tennessee; John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; and Jeff McMurray in Chicago contributed to this report. Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.

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This story was edited to correct the name of a researcher on extreme weather conditions. It’s Victor Gensini, not Victor Genzini.


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