Damage in Mayfield, KY
Damage to the courthouse in Mayfield, Kentucky (Photo: Kentucky Emergency Management Association)
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A massive and historic tornado outbreak swept through the Mississippi River Valley Friday night, likely claiming over 100 lives. Daylight is revealing devastation stretching hundreds of miles from Arkansas through western Kentucky.

“This is a storm the likes of which we have never seen,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Bashear. Bashear, who said he is also unable to reach his family in the affected area, predicted a devastating loss of life in the state.

“In Kentucky, we are going to lose over 50 people, probably closer to somewhere between 70 and 100,” said Bashear. Many fatalities in the state is likely to come from a candle factory in the town of Mayfield.

“There were about 110 people in [the factory] at the time the tornado hit it,” the governor said. “We believe we’ll lose at least dozens.”

Tornadoes also tore through nearby Edwardsville, Illinois. An Amazon distribution center partially collapsed as the storms tore through, killing at least two workers inside.

Miles away in the town of Monette, Arkansas, a tornado hit through a local nursing home, leaving two dead and at least five others hurt.

Tornado outbreak “one of the most significant disasters” in area’s history

Video from the Mayfield, Kentucky area shows a massive, “mile wide” tornado tearing through the town.

The tornado that struck Mayfield was on the ground for more than 200 miles, according to experts. It is the first tornado in history to track across four different states. Radar indicates that when it struck Mayflied, the storm lofted debris almost 35,000 feet in the air; meaning it lifted pieces of trees and homes higher than the cruising altitude for an airplane.

This was, according to preliminary records, one of the strongest and longest lasting tornadoes in the country’s history. The devastating outbreak serves as a start and terrifying reminder of the threat climate change poses.

Damage from the storms stretches from central Arkansas, north to St. Louis, MO to as far east as Nashville, TN. Tens of thousands of Americans are waking up this morning in towns and neighborhoods that look unrecognizable from the night before. Hundreds of homes and businesses across the region are severely damaged or altogether flattened.

“This will be one of the most significant, the most extensive disasters that Kentucky has faced,” said Kentucky emergency management director Michael Dossett.

“It’s one of the darkest days in the state’s history.”

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...

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