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He protected people in the Mayfield tornado. His family and others won't have to pay for funerals.

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Dec 14, 2021

MAYFIELD, Ky. (WTVF) — Services for the many victims killed in the Mayfield tornado will begin Tuesday night at one funeral home in the hard-hit city.

"It's just pitch in, do whatever, overcome, adapt, kind of like the marines say," said Jim Mitchell, a funeral director at Brown Funeral Home.

Mitchell said he originally feared the death toll would be several dozen when he initially saw what happened at the candle factory in the community. He's relieved there wasn't a massive loss of life.

"Thank goodness it's not going to be near that total," Mitchell said.

While the funeral home itself didn't sustain major damage in the storm, it did not have running water until Tuesday. Not having water complicated embalming that had to take place over the weekend. On Saturday, six victims of the tornado were taken early in the day to the funeral home. However, a volunteer firefighter with a department outside of Mayfield was able to secure a water tanker to help them do the work that had to be done.

For families of tornado victims, Gov. Andy Beshear said they will receive $5,000 each from the relief funds for expenses associated with funeral arrangements. The governor said funeral homes can only charge those families within the $5,000 limit. In Mayfield, some businesses are pledging additional money too, according to Brown Funeral Home.

"It's like I told a mother this morning that called, [the mother] of a young 21-year-old boy who died in the candle factory. She brought up finances and I said don't worry. It will be taken care of," Mitchell said.

The family of Robert Daniel, 47 — sheriff's deputy who died in the storm while protecting inmates — have a service planned on Saturday.

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Robert Daniel was one of the Kentucky tornado victims. He was helping people at the time of his death.

"Obviously we're hurting because of the loss of our brother, but we know others that lost family members as well so we know their pain right now," said Alonzo Daniel, Robert's brother.

Upon hearing that Daniel died on duty, an organization called Honor Flag came to Mayfield to pay their respects to his service and ultimate sacrifice. Honor Flag has an American flag that flew over Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It will be laid next to Daniel's body before his funeral.

"It's an honor to be able to bring this flag here, not only for this deputy but for the entire community," Chris Heisler said.

Deputy Daniel's family said his life embodied what Mayfield is all about.

"The thing about Mayfield is we're strong, we're strong people. We will bounce back," Daniel said. "And that's the thing about my brother. Not only was he physically strong, he was a strong man mentally as well. He wouldn't want us to be down. He wouldn't want us to be sad. He would just want us to keep doing what we need to do."