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Kentucky tornado: State death toll at 74, 'will be more,' governor says: LIVE UPDATES

Kentucky was battered Saturday by four tornadoes -- including one with a 200-mile path of destruction. The day before, severe weather that swept through Illinois left six dead.


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Biden approves Tennessee, Illinois Emergency Declarations after major storms

President Joe Biden on Monday declared that an emergency exists in Tennessee and Illinois after the region was battered by a deadly storm system on Saturday.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee requested federal emergency assistance for nine counties, seeking help with debris removal and emergency protective measures after touring storm damage. 

The White House said in a statement that Biden’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the two states.

“FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. 

Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75% Federal funding, the statement read. -The Associated Press contributed to this report

Posted by Edmund DeMarche

Kentucky survivor credits a ‘superman’ for lifting concrete wall off of her after tornado

Autumn Kirks was working the night shift with her boyfriend at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, when they were told to "take cover” and "everything got really quiet” amid the severe weather. 

"Then it was like the building was picked up and thrown back down on top of us,” Kirks told Fox News. 

Kirks’ boyfriend, Lannis Ward, tragically died in the storm. She credited an unidentified "superman" with saving her after the tornado passed. 

“We had a guy play superman. I don't know who it was and I wish I did so I could thank him. He lifted in a concrete wall and lifted it right up off of me and three of my girls to help us get out,” Kirk said. “We got to safety because of him. Otherwise, I feel like I'd probably still be under that wall."

At least eight of the more than 100 people who were working at the candle factory on Friday night died due to the storm. 

Click here to read more on Fox News.

Posted by Paul Best

Survivor in Arkansas describes ‘absolute shock’ at tornado damage

A survivor of the tornadoes that struck northeastern Arkansas on Friday said that she was able to get into a closet with her family just seconds before a twister hit her house. 

"It was absolute shock. We were scared because we didn’t know if another front, storm was coming through,” Holly Stevens told Fox Weather on Monday. 

"We were just like running on adrenaline, because we were scared and didn’t know, you know, what was going on and what was coming next.”

Posted by Paul Best

Tennessee governor asks Biden to declare state of emergency after four people are killed by storms

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is asking President Biden to declare a state of emergency in nine counties that were hit hard by tornadoes on Friday night. 

While Kentucky took the brunt of the storm, at least seven tornadoes hit the Volunteer State, killing four people and destroying dozens of buildings. 

“Our emergency officials, first responders, and law enforcement brought hope where there was none in the aftermath of these storms,” Gov. Lee said. “Our effort now will be to bring as much relief as possible to these devastated communities.” 

Biden already declared a state of emergency over the weekend in Kentucky, where at least 74 people were killed. The declaration allows FEMA to provide direct assistance and reimburse local authorities for recovery work. 

Posted by Paul Best

Death toll rises to 74 in Kentucky, more than 100 still unaccounted for

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said Monday that the death toll from the tornadoes has risen to at least 74, and 109 people are still unaccounted for. 

"We expect that this death toll will continue to grow," Beshear said. “With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives."

Beshear also said that there are "way more people unaccounted for" than the current estimate of 109.

The 74 deaths marks a jump of 10 since the governor's press conference in the morning. Five of the people who died in the storm are still unidentified.

More than 1,000 homes were destroyed by the tornadoes. About 26,000 homes were without power and 10,000 homes and businesses didn't have water as of Monday afternoon, Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said.

Posted by Paul Best

McConnell: 'Kentucky has been devastated, but we have not been defeated’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday that he will travel home later this week to survey the damage after dozens of tornadoes hit his home state. 

"The tornadoes that hit Kentucky this past weekend were some of the most widespread, severe, and devastating in our state's history,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. "It’s still difficult to comprehend the vast scope of this storm.”

McConnell also thanked the Biden administration for their support after the president quickly declared a state of emergency over the weekend. 

"President Biden cut through the red tape to approve our request at an accelerated pace, providing the rapid support that we need to recover,” McConnell said. 

Posted by Paul Best

Biden traveling to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey damage

President Biden will travel to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey storm damage after tornadoes slammed the state, killing at least 65 people. 

The White House said he would survey the damage in hard-hit Mayfield and Dawson Springs after receiving a briefing in Ft. Campbell. 

Biden said Monday that he "made it clear to every governor” that the federal government will deploy "whatever they need, when they need it."

“We’re going to get this done,” Biden added. “We’re going to be there as long as it takes to help.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the president will meet with local officials and try "to be a source of comfort” for everyone affected by the tornadoes. 

“That visit is really about him receiving an update of the work that’s happening on the ground, hearing directly from leaders on what they need more from the federal government, if anything, and he’s going to be very responsive to that,” Psaki said.

Click here to read more on Fox News.

Posted by Paul Best

Father still missing after his brother and nephew were killed in Tennessee tornado

A Florida family is grieving the loss of two family members and still searching for a third after a tornado hit Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake State Park, where they were on a duck hunting trip. 

“We’re from Florida, so we’re used to staying put during a hurricane, but tornadoes are different, and they didn’t expect a tornado to hit the hotel as directly as it did,” Ashleigh Hall told the Tallahassee Democrat

Her father, Jamie Hall, is still missing. The remains of Jamie’s brother-in-law, Steve Gunn, and Gunn’s son, Grays, were recovered on Saturday. 

“He’s a heavy-set middle-aged Black man, and he was wearing his camouflage duck-hunting gear on Friday,” Ashleigh told the newspaper. “So hopefully someone can find him and get him back to us."

Posted by Paul Best

Amazon employee says she almost picked up shift on night of tornado that killed 6 in Illinois

Emily Epperson lost her best friend, Austin McEwan, Friday night when a tornado ripped the roof off an Amazon warehouse in Illinois and the building collapsed. Epperson remembered him as caring, down-to-earth and "the light in every single room that he walked into."

McEwan is one of six people who were confirmed dead after the collapse.

Epperson worked at the Edwardsville warehouse with McEwan. She told "Fox & Friends" Monday she almost pick up a shift that same night but decided against it last minute because of an ankle injury.

"I definitely could have [been there]," said Epperson.

Click here to read more on Fox News.

Posted by Fox News Staff

Eyewitness to deadly Kentucky tornado discusses state of community: 'We lost our history'

Eyewitness to the tragic Kentucky storms, Ryan Mitchum, explained how his community lost its history after four tornadoes plowed through the state, and several others, over the weekend. 

Mitchum joined "America's Newsroom" on Monday to discuss the cleanup effort as the death toll continues to climb and members of the community remain missing. 

"It's just going to be a long process, it's going to continue to go on after the news crews leave," Mitchum told co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino. "We lost our history. Families lost everything that they've ever had and, we just don't really know where to start."

Mitchum mentioned his friend's grandmother, who had lost her home in the tragic storms, also lost everything years ago in a house fire. 

"As a kid, I remember her house burning down, so this is the second time she's lost everything," Mitchum stated. "Fortunately, she made it out alive, and she's doing good. We got to sit down with her last night [and] enjoy her company."

Click here to read more on Fox News.

Posted by Fox News Staff

Biden: 'Can’t say with absolute certainty that it was because of climate change’

President Biden, speaking Monday about the severe weather that ripped through Kentucky and Illinois over the weekend, said the federal government “will be there as long as it takes to help” those areas recover. 

“We can’t say with absolute certainty that it was because of climate change.... there is a lot of things we don’t know for certain,” Biden also said when asked about the cause of the weather. “What is certain it is one of the worst tornado disasters we have had in the country and the second thing that is certain is that it is unusual – how it happened, how many places it touched down and the length of the path." 

Posted by Greg Norman

Illinois Gov. Pritzker hails first responders after touring Amazon warehouse collapse site

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is hailing first responders on Monday for their efforts following severe weather that passed through Edwardsville on Friday, causing an Amazon warehouse to collapse. 

“They moved heaven and earth to respond to this disaster, reuniting families when they could and comforting loved ones in the tragic situations where they couldn’t,” he said.  

Six people were killed in the collapse, Pritzker said.

"We are ensuring that there is a full understanding of what happened to these individuals in their final moments," he said. "And while we cannot prevent natural disasters, we can strive to prevent future tragedies and ensure that all Illinoians make it home safe at the end of their shift."

Click here to watch on Fox News.

Posted by Greg Norman

Illinois governor provides update on disaster relief efforts

Click here to watch on Fox News.

Posted by Greg Norman

Illinois police: All accounted for after Amazon warehouse collapse, but 6 dead

Police in the city of Edwardsville, Illinois , said Monday that everyone has been accounted for after a severe storm caused an Amazon warehouse to collapse there on Friday

“At this time, everyone reported to have been at the property when this event occurred has been accounted for and we have no other report of missing individuals,” the city’s police chief said in a statement.  

“Unfortunately, six people lost their lives because of this devastating event and one individual remains hospitalized with serious injuries,” the statement added. 

Posted by Greg Norman

Kentucky governor: Death toll at 64, but there ‘will be more’

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said as of Monday morning, 64 people have been confirmed dead following tornadoes in Kentucky and at least 105 remain unaccounted for. 

“There will be more. We believe it will certainly be above 70, maybe even 80,” he said. “But again with this amount of damage and rubble it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives.” 

Beshear later appeared emotional as he was talking about the devastation left by the severe weather

“I know like the folks in western Kentucky, I’m not doing so well today and I’m not sure how many of us are,” he said. “I was working on getting the confirmed deaths this morning and realized I was writing on the back of notes that one of my kids took from school. 

“And here it was it is – it's notes on inertia. It means that an object that is in motion will stay in motion. So we are going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and push through this. Everybody out there get the help you need, take care of yourself and we will continue to provide updates,” he continued. “To the people of Western Kentucky, we are not going anywhere. We are going to be with you today, we are going to be with you tomorrow and we are going to be there with you to rebuild.” 

Michael Dossett, the director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, praised the federal government for their disaster response but also said “this is a massive event, the largest and most devastating in Kentucky’s history.” 

“Restoration is ongoing,” he added. “This again is not going to be a week or month operation – this will go on for years to come.” 

Posted by Greg Norman

Kentucky mayor warns it will be ‘long time’ before resources are restored

The mayor of Mayfield, Kentucky is warning Monday that the town could be without heat, water and electricity for a “long time” as authorities continue to survey tornado damage from Friday. 

“This is a tough morning... but it’s ok, we’re still going to be all right,” Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said on “CBS Mornings”, according to the Associated Press. 

“We lost a water tower, so we have no water within the city limits. All the power was cut just for safety reasons after everything fell,” O'Nan also told NBC’s “Today” show. "And the natural gas has been turned off because of so many leaks. So we have no resources.” 

"The resources are gonna take a long time to be restored here,” she added. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted by Greg Norman

Kentucky minister says churchgoers uniting to help each other after tornado devastation

Dr. Milton West, senior minister of First Christian Church in Mayfield, says services were held even after church was destroyed.

Posted by Fox News Staff

Amazon worker who died in warehouse collapse was told not to leave facility, report says

One of the Amazon employees who was killed in Illinois after a tornado destroyed the warehouse he was working in was told by the company to stay put until the severe weather passed, his girlfriend tells the New York Post

Cherie Jones, the girlfriend of 46-year-old Larry Virden, recounted to the newspaper the text messages she exchanged with him on Friday night. 

“He always tells me when he is filling up the Amazon truck when he is getting ready to go back… I was like ‘OK, I love you.’ He’s like, ‘well Amazon won’t let me leave until after the storm blows over,’” Jones said. 

She added that she received the messages around 8:23 p.m., while the tornado reportedly touched down 16 minutes later. 

“We heard the tornado didn’t touch down until 8:39 so he had 20 minutes to get home,” Jones also told the New York Post. “I messaged him and that was the last text message I got from him. I told him where we live, it was only lightning at the time. After that, I got nothing from him.” 

Posted by Greg Norman

UPDATE: Kentucky candle factory says 8 dead, 90 others found safe

"Sunday Night in America" spoke with Mayfield candle factory owner Troy Propes, whose factory was destroyed after deadly tornadoes hit the U.S. and pushed through approximately six states. 

"Fortunately, FEMA has still declared this a rescue mission. They’re the experts in this situation, and that gives us all hope because, the people of this town and myself, we’re in uncharted waters, Trey. And that is good news for us," Propes said. "We have 110 people that worked the second shift the other night, making candles for some of the largest brands. This tornado came through with a force that was described in the earlier segment. It totally devastated this community."

It was reported that the candle factory was operating "24/7" to meet demands for the Christmas holiday before the tornado struck the area. Although the bad weather was known to the employees, the intensity of the tornado took the community by surprise. Propes complimented his management team for properly handling the situation as best as they could.

On Sunday, the candle company said at least eight people were confirmed dead and eight remained missing, according to the Associated Press. More than 90 others have been located, the company added.

Click here to read more on Fox News.

Posted by Fox News Staff

Biden approves Kentucky disaster declaration after deadly tornado

President Biden on Sunday declared that a major disaster exits in Kentucky after the state was battered Saturday by four tornadoes—including one with a 200-mile path of destruction that left at least 80 dead in the state. 

Biden’s declaration makes federal funding available to individuals who have been impacted by the storm in eight counties in the state. The assistance will include grants for temporary housing “home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”

Posted by Edmund DeMarche

Spokesman: 8 factory workers dead, 8 missing from tornado

Workers on the night shift at Mayfield Consumer Products were in the middle of the holiday rush, cranking out candles, when a tornado closed in on the factory and the word went out: "Duck and cover."

Autumn Kirks pulled down her safety goggles and took shelter, tossing aside wax and fragrance buckets to make room. She glanced away from her boyfriend, Lannis Ward, and when she looked back, he was gone.

Gov. Andy Beshear initially said Saturday that only 40 of the 110 people working in the factory at the time were rescued, and that "it’ll be a miracle if anybody else is found alive in it."

But on Sunday, the candle company said that while eight were confirmed dead and eight remained missing, more than 90 others had been located.Dozens of people in several Kentucky counties are still believed to have died in the storms, but Beshear, after saying Sunday morning the state’s toll could exceed 100, said that afternoon it might be as low as 50.

Click here to read more on Fox News

Posted by Fox News Staff

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