‘One of the toughest nights in Kentucky history’: Photos show devastation as tornadoes wreak havoc in six states

‘When I got to this area, it was flashing lights in every direction. Trees down, roads impassable. It looked like a war zone,’ storm chaser says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Saturday 11 December 2021 15:57
Comments
Deadly twin tornados illuminated by lightning seen in Arkansas

Photos show the devastation in Kentucky as residents begin to look into the damage after tornadoes wreaked havoc in at least six states.

The town of Mayfield, with about 10,000 residents in the western part of the state, was one of the worst-hit areas.

Governor Andy Beshear said the damage was “some of the worst we’ve seen in a long time”.

He added that dozens are believed to have died when a candle factory, Mayfield Consumer Products, was hit by a tornado. Around 110 people are believed to have been inside.

“When I got to this area, it was flashing lights in every direction. Trees down, roads impassable. It looked like a war zone,” storm chaser Michael Gordon told CNN.

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Miguel Macias surveys the damage to Emmanuel Baptist Church where he came for shelter last night during the tornado on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Kentucky Republican Representative James Comer told CNN: “When [first-responders] arrived on the scene, they didn’t think there would be any survivors. But they could hear people yelling for help. And they pulled people out, some people that didn’t experience any damages.”

Heavy damage is seen of the Mayfield city hall and police department after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

“But, of course, now, you’re at the point to where you’re pulling out the people that didn’t make it,” Mr Comer added. “And there’s still lots of people unaccounted for in that factory.”

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

The estimates of casualties suggest that the string of tornadoes could be the worst weather event in the history of the state.

People survey tornado damage of the downtown area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Nothing of this scale has been seen since 1917 when 67 people were killed in the western parts of the state.

General view of tornado damage of the downtown area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

“It has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” Mr Beshear said on Saturday. “Some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words.”

General view of the heavily tornado damaged courthouse on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Tornado damage in Mayfield, Kentucky

Heavy damage is seen of the town courthouse after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

Razed buildings in Mayfield, Kentucky

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, 40, works at the candle factory that collapsed when it was hit by a tornado.

She told NBC News that everyone was “getting down, taking cover”, and then she felt her ears “popping”.

Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

“Like, you know when you’re on the plane?” she said. Then the lights went out. “And then before you know it, it was like the building rocked and collapsed and we fell down.”

A tattered American flag flies at half-mast for Sen. Bob Dole in front of the heavy tornado-damaged courthouse on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky

She said it was like a falling “house of cards”.

“We were just trying to stay calm until they come and got us,” she added.

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