Kentucky Gov Praises Rescuers, Provides Update: ‘If We Haven’t Found Somebody By Now, It’s Of Really Great Concern’

On Sunday, following the devastating tornadoes that hit multiple states late last week, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper to discuss the damage, and ongoing rescue efforts.

Tapper initially asked about the mounting death toll, which Beshear said currently stands at “over 80,” but could climb to “more than 100.”

“This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had. I think it’s going to be the longest and deadliest tornado event in U.S. history,” Beshear said, adding that one tornado covered more than 227 miles, 200 of which were in the state of Kentucky. “I have got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean, gone.”

Tapper continued, asking the governor about the rescue efforts.

“Well, we do have a lot of help. We have an amazing state of good people that have come in from other cities and towns where they weren’t hit. And so we have a lot of assistance that come in from other states,” Beshear stated.

The governor went on, praising the rescue efforts, but adding that “if we haven’t found somebody by now, it’s of really great concern.”

…our rescuers out there are incredible. They worked through the night while it was occurring, putting themselves in danger, through all of yesterday, hopefully caught a few hours of sleep last night.

I was at our emergency operations center beginning at 1:00 a.m., I guess, yesterday. And hearing the reports coming in moment by moment, people trapped in a basement because their house is gone, and getting people to them, just a lot of amazing efforts.

As for those unaccounted for, the governor said that one town, Dawson Springs, has an “unaccounted for” list that spans about eight single-spaced pages.

Tapper also asked about the workers in a candle factory. Beshear said that there were “about 110 Kentuckians … working in that facility. About 40 of them have been rescued.”

“And I’m not sure that we’re going to see another rescue. I pray for it. It would be an incredibly welcome miracle, but I think it’s been since 3:30 yesterday morning that we have — that we found a live person,” the governor added.

TRANSCRIPT:

TAPPER: How many confirmed deaths do you have in Kentucky? How many of your citizens are still unaccounted for?

BESHEAR: Well, the confirmation process is slow. I can tell you, from reports that I have received, I know we have lost more than 80 Kentuckians. That number is going to exceed more than 100.

This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had. I think it’s going to be the longest and deadliest tornado event in U.S. history. We know that one of these tornadoes was on the ground over 227 miles. And, Jake, 200 were in Kentucky, I have got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean, gone.

My dad’s hometown, half of it isn’t standing. It is hard to describe. I know people can see the visuals, but that goes on for 12 blocks or more in some of these places. And it’s going to take us time. I mean, you think you’d go door to door to check on people and see if they’re OK. There are no doors.

The question is, is somebody in the rubble of thousands upon thousands of structures? I mean, it is devastating.

TAPPER: And there’s — meanwhile, there’s no electricity. It’s been below freezing. How are rescue efforts going?

BESHEAR: Well, we do have a lot of help. We have an amazing state of good people that have come in from other cities and towns where they weren’t hit.

And so we have a lot of assistance that come in from other states. Certainly, federal partners like ATF, Coast Guard, and others are also helping. But it’s just — the massive, widespread damage makes rescue efforts a challenge.

Now, if we haven’t found somebody by now, it’s of really great concern. The area that was hit the hardest, Mayfield, I was there yesterday, will be back to today. Certainly, a candle factory there that it’ll be a miracle if we pull anybody else out of that.

It’s now 15 feet deep of steel, cars on top of where the roof was. Just — just tough. But our rescuers out there are incredible. They worked through the night while it was occurring, putting themselves in danger, through all of yesterday, hopefully caught a few hours of sleep last night.

I was at our emergency operations center beginning at 1:00 a.m., I guess, yesterday. And hearing the reports coming in moment by moment, people trapped in a basement because their house is gone, and getting people to them, just a lot of amazing efforts.

TAPPER: Is there a number of Kentuckians who remain unaccounted for?

BESHEAR: Well, again, that’s region by region. I’ll just say, in Dawson Springs — again, it’s where my family is from. It’s a town of about 2,700. The list of unaccounted for was about eight pages single-spaced. Pretty bad.

TAPPER: And many of the likely deaths are at one particular candle factory. What do you know about whether those workers had a chance to get to safety or if they had a plan in place?

BESHEAR: My understanding is that they did have a plan inside the facility, that we believe most of the workers got to what is supposed to be the safest place in the facility.

But when you see the damage that this storm did, not just there, but across the area, I’m not sure there was a plan that would have worked. So, we had about 110 Kentuckians, mainly residents of Mayfield, that were working in that facility. About 40 of them have been rescued.

And I’m not sure that we’re going to see another rescue. I pray for it. It would be an incredibly welcome miracle, but I think it’s been since 3:30 yesterday morning that we have — that we found a live person.

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