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Beshear: Death toll up to at least 74 following tornadoes in western Kentucky

Gov. Andy Beshear said it will take years to recover from what he said is the worst tornado outbreak in Kentucky’s history.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 9:43 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear said it will take years to recover from what he said is the worst tornado outbreak in Kentucky’s history.

He said as of Monday afternoon, at least four tornadoes killed at least 74 people, with many still unaccounted for.

The governor said it may be weeks before we know the total amount of death and destruction, but as of now, he said there are people dead in at least nine western Kentucky counties, some who have not been identified yet. Beshear said most of the people at the candle factory were found alive.

“I said this yesterday, but there is not a lens big enough to capture the devastation,” Gov. Beshear said.

Governor Beshear says the damage and destruction will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars in a recovery that will last years— not weeks or months.

“You go from grief and shock to being resolute, in a span of 10 minutes, and then you go back,” Gov. Beshear said.

Support and help is pouring in from all over the country and Beshear says he believes FEMA broke a record in how fast they responded.

“President Biden called me three times Saturday. And has moved faster that we have ever seen in getting us what we need,” Gov. Beshear said.

Millions of dollars is in the Team Western Kentucky Fund, and the governor said the first expenditure will be to help with funerals.

“We are going to be providing $5,000 in burial expenses for each family. We are asking that funeral homes not to charge beyond that $5,000,” Gov. Beshear said.

So far, the most deaths occurred in Graves, with at least 20, followed by 13 in Hopkins, 12 in Warren and others in Muhlenberg, Taylor, Caldwell, Marshall, Fulton and Lyon. Those numbers are expected to change.

State emergency officials said at least 30,000 remain with power but a lot of headway was made Sunday with restoring cell phone service in the area.

President Joe Biden is coming to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey damage.

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