After a cluster of fatal tornadoes slammed Kentucky on Friday, US President Joe Biden declared a major federal disaster, with officials from a tornado-devastated candle business claiming much fewer people killed than initially thought.
The effort to label the storms a federal disaster follows Biden’s declaration of the storms a federal emergency. Thousands of people are facing shelter, food, water, and electricity shortages as a result of the storms.
It comes after Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear made a formal request, claiming that the tornadoes were the most catastrophic in the state’s history.
After twisters ripped through the US midwest and south on Friday night, Beshear warned the death toll might reach 100.
Hundreds of people are still thought to have perished as a result of the storms in numerous counties throughout the state, but Beshear stated on Sunday afternoon that the death toll might be as low as 50, according to the Associated Press.
“We’re hoping that the first estimations of those we’ve lost were incorrect.” If that’s the case, it’ll be fantastic,” the governor said.
According to Bob Ferguson, a representative for Mayfield Consumer Products, which owns the candle business, eight individuals have been confirmed deceased and eight more are still missing. Authorities were attempting to validate his claim that 90 persons had been located.
“At one point, there were claims that as many as 70 people might have died in the workplace.” “One is too many, but we thank God that the number is turning out to be far, far less,” Ferguson said, adding that rescuers were still looking for the eight people who were still missing.
Beshear’s newest death toll estimates did not specify how many manufacturing employees he was counting.
“Information on the candle factory is still coming in.” The owner has contacted me and claims to have some new information. We’re attempting to confirm it. If that’s the case, it may be a better scenario and the miracle we’ve been praying for,” Beshear said at a press conference late Sunday.
Rescue personnel continued to comb the wreckage for survivors two days after the tragedy occurred, and many individuals who were without electricity, water, or even a roof over their heads saved what they could.
Six workers were murdered at an Amazon.com Inc warehouse in Illinois when the building broke under the power of the storm, including one cargo driver who perished in the lavatory, where several workers said they were ordered to seek cover.
In Arkansas, a nursing home was struck, resulting in one of the state’s two deaths. In Tennessee, four people were reported killed, and two in Missouri.
Mayfield, a town of roughly 10,000 people in Kentucky’s southwest region, was hit particularly hard, with the massive twisters destroying the fire and police facilities. The tornadoes, according to the governor, were the most devastating in state history.
“The first thing we have to do is grieve together, and that’s what we’re going to do before we rebuild together,” Beshear said, noting that one tornado ripped across 227 miles (365 kilometers) of territory, nearly entirely in Kentucky.
On Friday night, a massive storm system raced through the Mississippi River basin and sections of the US southeast and midwest, generating more than 30 tornadoes.
Tornadoes are more common in the spring, but this one happened in December, when colder weather usually keeps them at bay, according to Victor Gensini, an extreme weather expert at Northern Illinois University.
“All I know is that the strength of the weather across the board has some influence as a result of the warming of the globe,” President Biden stated when asked if the storms’ ferocity was tied to the climate problem. At this time, I am unable to comment on the exact impact of these individual storms.”
Six individuals were murdered in the collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, according to fire chief James Whiteford. Another wounded worker was taken to a hospital.
In addition to the high toll in Kentucky, four persons have been reported murdered in Tennessee, two in Arkansas, and two in Missouri.
Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who worked at the Mayfield candle business, claimed the structure made her and her coworkers “rock from one side to the other” just before it fell.
Parsons-Perez was trapped in the debris for three hours and videotaped some of it on Facebook, where her coworkers can be heard weeping in panic.
She told reporters about how a blast of wind altered everything for her when she was in the hospital. She described the seconds just before the building fell as “my ears started bursting and I felt my body shaking.”
When she realized she was buried beneath, she was terrified. “I was horrified when I realized it was an air conditioner on me and five people on the rubble on top of me,” she added.
The storm was so strong that a snapshot of a tornado-damaged home in Kentucky was discovered over 130 miles distant in Indiana.
According to specialists, the United States has more than 1,200 tornadoes every year, which is more than four times the number of tornadoes in all other nations where they occur.