Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Thousands without heat, water after tornadoes kill dozens | News

MAYFIELD, Kentucky – Residents of Kentucky counties, where tornadoes killed dozens of people, could be without heating, water, or electricity for weeks or more in freezing temperatures, state officials warned Monday as the number of damage and deaths became clearer in five states slammed into the swarm of twisters.

Kentucky authorities said the extent of the destruction hampered their ability to quantify the damage from Friday night’s storms. At least 88 people – including 74 in Kentucky – were killed in the tornado outbreak that also destroyed a nursing home in Arkansas, badly damaged an Amazon distribution center in Illinois, and spread its deadly effects to Tennessee and Missouri.

In Kentucky, efforts to repair the power grid, accommodate the destroyed homes, and deliver potable water and other relief supplies were also launched during the search for those still missing.

“We will not leave any of our families homeless,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear when he announced that state park lodges would be used as accommodation.

In Mayfield, one of the hardest hit cities, survivors saw a high in their 50s and a sub-freezing low with no utilities on Monday.

“Our infrastructure is so damaged. We don’t have running water. Our water tower was lost. Our wastewater management was lost and the city has no natural gas. So we can’t rely on anything, ”Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said on CBS Mornings. “For so many of our people this is just survival at the moment.”

Across the state, about 26,000 households and businesses have been without power, almost all in Mayfield, according to poweroutage.us. More than 10,000 households and businesses run out of water and an additional 17,000 are under boiling water advice, Kentucky emergency management director Michael Dossett told reporters.

Kentucky was by far the hardest-hit cyclone in several states, notable for coming at a time of the year when cold weather usually limits tornadoes. At least 74 people died in the state, Beshear said on Monday, citing the first specific number of deaths.

In Bowling Green, Kentucky, 11 people died on the same street, including two infants found among the bodies of five relatives near an apartment building, said Warren County’s medical examiner Kevin Kirby.

Beshear warned it could take days longer to get the full death toll and in some places door-to-door searches are impossible.

“With this amount of damage and rubble, it could take a week or even more to get a definitive count of the number of lives lost,” said the governor.

Up to 70 people were initially killed at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, but the company said on Sunday that eight deaths were confirmed and eight people were missing, while more than 90 more were found. Bob Ferguson, a company spokesman, said many employees who had gathered in a tornado shelter then left the site and were difficult to reach because phone service was down.

Debris from destroyed buildings and tattered trees covered the ground in Mayfield, a town of about 10,000 people in western Kentucky. Bent sheet metal, fallen power lines and destroyed vehicles lined the streets. Windows were blown up and roofs torn down from the buildings that were still standing.

Five twisters have hit Kentucky in total, including one with an exceptionally long distance of about 200 miles, authorities said.

In addition to the deaths in Kentucky, the tornadoes also killed at least six people in Illinois, where the Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where the nursing home was destroyed and the governor said workers protected residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.

The federal occupational health and safety agency announced Monday that it has opened an investigation into the collapse of the Amazon warehouse in Illinois.

Amazon’s Kelly Nantel said the Illinois warehouse was “built in accordance with the code.” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said there would be an investigation to update the code “given the severe climate changes we are seeing across the country,” which seem to take into account stronger tornadoes.

Near Mayfield, 67 people spent Sunday night in a church serving as a refuge in Wingo, and 40 more were expected on Monday. Organizers worked to find a mobile outdoor shower and laundry cart as they expected many of the displaced to need long-term housing. Volunteers made efforts to meet more urgent needs such as underwear and socks.

Mayfield resident Cynthia Gargis, 51, stays with her daughter after the storm tore the front of her apartment away and sucked almost everything out. She came to the shelter to offer help and to visit friends who have lost their homes.

“I don’t know, I don’t see how we’ll ever get over it,” she said. “It will never be the same again.”

Glynda Glover, 82, said she didn’t know how long she would be staying at the Shelter Wingo: her apartment is uninhabitable as the wind blew out the windows and covered her bed with glass and asphalt.

“I’ll stay here until we’re back to normal,” she said, “and I don’t know what’s normal anymore.”

On the outskirts of Dawson Springs, another city ravaged by the storms, houses were reduced to rubble and trees felled, which littered the landscape for at least a mile.

“It looks like a bomb went off. It’s just completely destroyed in some areas, ”said Jack Whitfield Jr., Hopkins County’s chief judge.

He estimated that more than 60 percent of the city, including hundreds of houses, were “beyond repair.”

“A full recovery will take years,” he said.

Tim Morgan, a volunteer chaplain for the Hopkins County Sheriff, said he had seen the aftermath of tornadoes and hurricanes before, but nothing like it.

“Just absolute decimation. There is a whole hill of houses now that are 3 feet high, ”he said.

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