(WTVF) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at least 74 people died in catastrophic tornadoes this weekend.
"We expect that this death toll will continue to grow," Gov. Beshear said. "Because we have multiple of our towns in rubble. The numbers are going to move a little bit."
Gov. Beshear declared a state of emergency following tornadoes throughout Western Kentucky on Friday night. One tornado moved through Mayfield, Kentucky, leaving a massive wake of damage and destroying several buildings. One stayed on the ground in Kentucky for an estimated 227 miles. A federal declaration of emergency has also been issued, which means FEMA will be on the ground to help families with claims. Officials said five tornadoes have been identified by radar.
One tornado hit a candle factory in Mayfield where more than 100 employees were working. Eight employees were killed. As rescue and recovery efforts continue, Gov. Beshear is asking all employees of the factory to check in at His House Ministries Church at 1250 KY303. Employees can also call 888-880-8620 to verify they are OK.
Currently, 448 national guardsmen are on the ground to help, Beshear said. The governor also required flags to be at half staff for the next week to honor Kentuckians who died in the storm. Some displaced families are even staying in state parks, he said.
"We saw a light of hope yesterday," Beshear said. "Some potential good news from the candle factory. All of this is being reported by the business. According to the business, of the 110 individuals — 94 are alive and accounted for; eight are dead; eight are missing. With no phones and 15-plus feet of wreckage, there was no way at the time to know how many individuals made it out. We very much hope it's true."
Of those lost, five are still unidentified. Of those known, the age range is five months to 86 years old. Gov. Beshear said there are at least 109 people still unaccounted for. Broken down by county, there are 81 missing in Hopkins County, 22 in Warren County and five in Graves County.
"Help keeps pouring in from all over the country," he said. "Thank you. We feel your love in Kentucky."
More than $4 million from 31,000 donations has been raised to help Kentuckians. From that fund, $5,000 in burial expenses will go to each family who has lost a loved one.
At least 26,500 Kentucky homes remain without power, down from 30,000 on Monday morning.
BREAKDOWN OF DEATHS BY COUNTY
- 21 in Graves County
- 17 in Hopkins County
- 11 in Muhlenberg County
- 15 in Warren County
- 4 in Caldwell County
- 1 in Marshall County
- 1 in Taylor County
- 1 in Fulton County
- 1 in Lyon County
- 1 in Franklin County