KENTUCKY (WNCN) – The tornadoes that struck the Midwest Friday night may have hit Kentucky the hardest, as their Governor, Andy Beshear, said he fears more than 100 people may have lost their lives due to the storms. As of 9:35 a.m. Saturday more than 50 people are confirmed dead, WKRN in Frankfort, Kentucky, said.
In Kentucky, several buildings collapsed during the severe weather that struck Mayfield, said Sarah Burgess, a trooper with the Kentucky State Police.
“The entire building is essentially leveled,” she said.
Farther east in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University said on Twitter that emergency crews were assessing significant storm damage and that no injuries were immediately reported.
However, the school called off commencement ceremonies that were planned for Saturday because the campus was without power.
“It’s obvious we had major wind damage,” Ronnie Ward said, a Bowling Green police spokesman, in a telephone interview to the Associated Press.
Rescue efforts in Bowling Green and elsewhere were hampered by debris strewn across roads. Ward said numerous apartment complexes in Bowling Green had major structural damage, and some factories had collapsed during the storms.
Multiple reports said Bowling Green took one of the largest hits, having significant damage impact homes and businesses, too.
Beshear had a video interview with the TODAY Show Saturday morning where he expressed multiple concerns.
“We are hurting this morning,” he said in the interview seen via Twitter. “Once dawn breaks we’ll get a better idea of just how staggering this loss is. As we sit here right now, we know our death toll is going to exceed 50, probably going to be closer to 70 to 100. It’s a real tough morning in Kentucky.”
Beshear also said there was no way to give even an estimate of who remains unaccounted for due to the storms and damage coming overnight and in dozens of counties. However, he did say there were approximately 110 people in the factory at the time of the tornado.
He also said one of those counties, that he kept unnamed, was almost 100-percent decimated.
“We lost people in multiple counties (and) this was part of a tornado that was on the ground for more than 200 straight miles,” Beshear said. “This is something we’ve never seen.”
As of 7:30 a.m. it is confirmed that five Kentucky counties have at least one person dead due to the tornadoes, Beshear said.