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Beshear: 4 dead in Kentucky following lethal Memorial Day weekend storms

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks from the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort in the aftermath of severe weather in central and western Kentucky.
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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks from the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort in the aftermath of severe weather in central and western Kentucky.

A deadly storm system impacted communities across Kentucky over the course of the holiday weekend, generating multiple tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail in many parts of the Commonwealth.

Much of the damage from the deadly weekend storms is being reported in western and central Kentucky, along the storms’ direct path.

Gov. Andy Beshear reported during a press conference Monday morning that the storms caused “massive damage to homes and businesses,” along with the deaths of four Kentuckians and the critical injury of a fifth.

The deaths include a 67-year-old woman in Mercer County, 62-year-old woman in Hardin County, 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County and a 34-year-old man in Jefferson County.

Beshear said more than a dozen counties and a handful of cities, as well as the entire state of Kentucky, have declared states of emergency in the wake of the storm. Counties to declare so far include Bullitt, Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Hopkins, Knox, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McLean, Muhlenberg, Simpson, Todd and Trigg. The cities to declare states of emergency include Albany, Cadiz, Dawson Springs, Manchester and Russellville. Beshear also activated the state’s price gouging statute.

He noted that much of the damage and “tough loss of life” came in Kentucky communities that have become familiar with these types of disasters.

“It could have been much worse. The people of Kentucky are very weather aware with everything we've been through,” Beshear said. “These are a lot of the counties that got hit in the December 2021 Tornado, in fact, the same block in Barnsley was hit, and it looks like at least one family that lost their home and the 2021 tornadoes lost their home again.”

Though the National Weather Service has yet to confirm the number of tornadoes that were generated by the storm, several were reported throughout the evening Sunday. Officials with the National Weather Service’s Paducah office began damage surveys Monday morning along two identified paths, one traveled by a reported long-track tornado that impacted locations more than 70 miles apart and another in southern Illinois, from Goreville to the Lake of Egypt area. NWS also anticipates surveying tornado tracks in Indiana and Missouri.

The longer of the two tornado tracks runs from near Calvert City in Marshall County to Greenville in Muhlenberg County. Beshear said during his press conference that it was on the ground for nearly 40 miles during that stretch, just missing Mayfield and Dawson Springs – two communities that were devastated during the 2021 tornado outbreak.

According to PowerOutages.us, more than 215,000 Kentuckians were without power at the peak of the outages caused by the storm. Beshear said he expects those in bigger Kentucky cities to regain electricity throughout Monday and Tuesday, but that the wait could be longer in Trigg County due to significant infrastructure damage.

Families who need shelter or aid in the wake of the storms can contact their local county emergency officials or go to a shelter or other point of contact for the state.

Beshear said that resources are available at Crawdad Sizemore Community Center in Clay County and Pennyrile State Resort Park in Hopkins County, where rooms have been made available for survivors in need as they were in the wake of the December 2021 tornado outbreak. Beshear said, at the time of his press conference, that no one had checked in at Pennyrile.

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More than a dozen Kentucky State Police posts had phone lines knocked out of service by the storms. Temporary phone lines have been established and a list of posts and numbers has been made available.

Also, an environmental impact of the storm Beshear highlighted during his press conference was a “significant” fuel leak caused by the breaking away of a dock on Dale Hollow Lake, which has shores in Cumberland and Clinton counties.

Copyright 2024 WKMS

Derek Operle