At least 5 dead from latest round of storms, Beshear says

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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At least five people were killed in Kentucky due to several rounds of severe weather that struck the state starting Sunday morning and continuing into the night, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to issue a statewide disaster declaration.

During a Memorial Day press conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Beshear said they are awaiting confirmation on the number of tornadoes.

“We know we had at least one tornado on the ground for at least 40 miles. It just barely missed the prison in Eddyville, just barely missed Mayfield, just passed north of Dawson Springs, where it struck the communities of Charleston and Barnsley.”

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Once again, just like December 2021, much of the impact was in Western Kentucky, but the damage  was statewide, the scope of which is still being determined.

Beshear said there were initial reports of five deaths, but one person is still alive, although in critical condition. He announced another death later on X, formerly Twitter, of a 54-year-old man who died of a heart attack while cutting fallen trees in Caldwell County.

The other four confirmed fatalities included a 67-year-old woman in Mercer County, a 62-year-old woman in Hardin County, a 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County and a 34-year-old man in Jefferson County, Beshear said.

He did not offer details on what caused the deaths.

Many customers remained without power on Monday, although the numbers dropped from over 215,000 at the height of the storms to 174,000, as of late Monday morning.

Beshear says 14 counties and five cities declared local states of emergency. The counties are Bullitt, Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Hopkins, Knox, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McLean, Muhlenberg, Simpson, Todd and Trigg. The five cities with declarations are Albany, Cadiz, Dawson Springs, Manchester and Russellville.

He said statewide declaration means they bring in resources, including the Kentucky National Guard. “I also activated the price-gouging statute, so those out getting necessary supplies need to look at the price. If it has been significantly increased, you need to contact the Attorney General’s office. It is important we get those reports.”

Beshear also noted while he expects enough damage occurred to make the state eligible for public assistance from FEMA, it will take people who suffered losses and can document it with photos to submit them to their county emergency management office to determine if Kentucky can qualify for individual assistance as well.

Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray warned Kentuckians to avoid travel in areas that have been struck by the severe weather so his crews can work to clear the roads of debris and downed trees.

Beshear traveled to Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties Monday afternoon to see the storm damage for himself.