Dec 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Fatalities, property destruction and power outages in six states slammed by tornadoes

Devastation from tornadoes in Kentucky

Postal vehicles sit destroyed behind the post office after a tornado ripped through Mayfield, Ky., on Dec. 10. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

More than two dozen tornadoes touched down in six Midwest and Southern states overnight Friday, leaving in their wake widespread destruction of property, rolling power outages and at least several dozen dead.

Driving the news: More than 70 people are believed to have been killed in Kentucky, and around two dozen others are estimated to have died in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Details: The death toll in Kentucky may exceed 100 after tornadoes tore through the western part of the state, according to Gov. Andy Beshear, who called it "the worst, most devastating, most deadly tornado event" in the state's history.

  • President Biden on Saturday issued an emergency declaration in Kentucky and ordered federal assistance to support recovery efforts. The president also said he stands "ready to do the same for the governors of the other states," during a press conference from Delaware on Saturday afternoon.
  • Biden has been in touch throughout the day with governors of the states impacted by severe weather, and told them "to call him directly if there is any federal support they need," the White House said in a readout of the calls.

In Arkansas, two residents of a nursing home died and five people, so far, have been reported injured after one of the tornadoes tore through the Monette Manor nursing home, according to Monette Mayor Bob Blankenship.

  • Illinois: At least six deaths have been confirmed after a roof collapsed at an Amazon warehouse near Edwardsville, Illinois, local police said in a statement on Saturday. Fire chief James Whiteford said 45 people had made it out safely as of that afternoon.
  • Missouri: At least two people were killed and two others were injured in building collapses near St. Charles County and Pemiscot County in Missouri. National Weather Service employees in Weldon Spring, Missouri, 30 miles west of St. Louis, had to take shelter as a tornado passed near their office, AP reports.
  • Mississippi: The state avoided most of the severe storms, but at least one possible tornado touched down near the Tishomingo area early Saturday morning, the Clarion Ledger reports.
  • Tennessee: Officials in Tennessee have so far confirmed four deaths from the tornadoes. Two people died in Lake County, one in Obion County and another in Shelby County, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

State of play: Biden said he would visit the states impacted by the severe weather once his presence won't "get in the way of rescue and recovery" efforts.

  • "I'm working with the governor of Kentucky and others who may want me to be there, to make sure we're value added at the time, we're not going to get in the way of rescue and recovery. I do plan on going."
  • The president also referenced the scale and scope of the unprecedented tornadoes, saying: "This is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history."

Go deeper: In photos: Deadly tornadoes leave damage across Kentucky, multiple states

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