FEMA: 8 dead, all others accounted for from Mayfield candle factory

Drone 12 shows there is significant tornado damage in Mayfield, Ky.
Drone 12 shows there is significant tornado damage in Mayfield, Ky.(Source: KFVS/Don Frazier)
Published: Dec. 11, 2021 at 12:50 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2021 at 12:17 AM EST
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MAYFIELD, Ky. (KFVS) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency said eight people are dead and all others are accounted for from Mayfield Consumer Products.

FEMA held a news conference at 6 p.m. on Monday, December 13.

According to the business, 94 of the employees working at the candle factory that night made it out alive.

Over the weekend, Governor Andy Beshear worried as many as 70 people may have perished when the building collapsed.

Governor Andy Beshear gave another update at 3 p.m. You can watch that below.

Heavy machinery and about 100 rescuers were at the site of the candle factory searching for survivors.

Officials say they’ve covered 50 to 60 percent of the facility, so far.

Rescuers say no survivors have been found in the rubble since their initial response.

In total, the governor said at least 74 Kentuckians are dead.

The governor said the newly reported deaths included one in Graves County, four in Hopkins County, three in Warren County and one in Franklin County.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 109 Kentuckians reported as unaccounted for, but the governor said the number could be higher.

The ages of the victims range from 5-months-old to 86-years-old.

Beshear said $5,000 in burial expenses will be provided to each family who’s lost a loved one, and he’s asking funeral homes not to charge any more than that.

He ordered state flags to half staff from Tuesday, Dec. 14 through sunset Monday, Dec. 20 to honor and remember the Kentuckians who have lost their lives and those who have been affected by the tornadoes.

There is a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for Mayfield and parts of Graves County impacted by the tornado. Police will aggressively enforce this curfew.

Regional Emergency Operations Center update - Monday afternoon

The Regional Emergency Operations Center at Mayfield coordinated a multi-agency response to the catastrophic tornado that caused major damage in Mayfield/Graves County and areas of Marshall County.

It also created issues in Fulton County and Lyon County and knocked out power and 911 services in Hickman County.

Crews are working along the tornado corridor conducting welfare checks on people who are in their homes but have no power. These crews will have water and some food supplies to give out.

Before removing any debris from their property, residents with tornado damage should take multiple photos for insurance documentation.

The photos will also help community leaders as they seek disaster assistance from FEMA and other agencies.

A FEMA vehicle was seen in Mayfield just before 9 a.m.

FEMA teams will be going door-to-door and anywhere they see people actively cleaning up.

The teams will have federal identification, wear FEMA shirts and carry iPads.

Residents are urged not to hesitate talking with them and filling out information, even if they don’t think they will qualify. Also, residents could help the FEMA crews get in touch with other victims.

Those who register will get an eight digit number to track their status online.

Homeowners using generators should be aware of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

The emergency operations center recommended keeping generators away from windows and doors. Use caution when fueling to avoid a fire.

Also use caution to prevent generators from back-feeding along power lines.

Homeowners should also be aware of the hazards associated with using an unvented space heater and other alternative heat sources that can create hazardous conditions or cause fire.

The U.S. Postal Service will attempt to deliver mail on Monday, Dec. 13 to everyone who has a standing mail box. Service is suspended at the Mayfield Post Office until further notice where a portion of the roof was taken off by the tornado.

Mail to post office boxes will be temporarily transferred to the main Paducah Post Office at 300 South 4th Street, where pick-up is available during regular service hours.

The postal service will attempt to set up a mail pickup point in Mayfield as soon as possible.

Kentucky State Police has been working with local law enforcement to conduct hundreds of welfare checks, as well as maintain public safety and security of homes and businesses affected by the tornado. This includes enforcing the curfew.

KSP has also helped Chief Medical Examiner Bill Ralston with victim identification.

The KSP Forensic Laboratory is using Rapid DNA technology to help in the identification of victims of Friday night’s storms.

There is new contact information available for those wishing to volunteer or donate to the tornado relief efforts in Graves County. You can find that information here.

Assistance for tornado victims

For resources such as shelter, food, or if you’re interested in volunteering and giving back, see our story on how to help those affected by the tornadoes.

Kentucky has opened up state parks for housing for tornado victims. It’s hoped they will be available for at least two weeks.

Fed Ex and UPS have deliveries of medication and other packages that would normally go to addresses within the damage corridor. The pick-up location was moved to a lot next to the Linwood Chevrolet dealership on U.S. 45, just north of the Interstate 69 Mayfield Exit 25 interchange.

Fed Ex and UPS will notify the intended recipient through their electronic notification system as packages arrive on-site.

Kentucky Care established a location in front of Lowes on Paris Road in cooperation with Gibson Pharmacy to help those who lost medications to the tornado. A mobile medical unit will be on-site to help with missing medications.

There is also assistance for those who lost eyeglasses and need them replaced. The eyeglass team is on-site on Monday, Dec. 13.

Senior citizens who have health issues and live in the tornado corridor or are without power may be eligible to temporarily stay in a nursing home until services are restored to their home. This is for senior citizens on Medicare or Medicaid.

According to the emergency operations center, Jackson Purchase Medical Center is at capacity. Additional ambulances will be stationed at the hospital to help with patient transfers, if needed.

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund was set up to help those impacted by tornadoes and severe weather.

As of Monday morning, Gov. Beshear said the fund has raised $4 million.

Roads and travel through affected areas

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews from Ballard, McCracken, Crittenden and Livingston Counties are on-site helping Graves County highway maintenance crews clear as many city streets and county roads as possible over the next week.

The county road departments from Graves County and Ballard County are also providing personnel and equipment.

Initially, crews will only remove material along the road and sidewalks. They said removal of debris from private property will wait until later. Efforts are currently focused on clearing streets for damage assessment surveys.

Streets where crews are working will be closed to all traffic as required.

Due to power outages, there are a number of traffic signals out of service across the region. Four-way stop signs have been placed at these intersections.

According to KYTC, there have been a number of crashes around the region at these locations when drivers did not use caution.

They said when you encounter a four-way stop, look and look again before entering the intersection.

KYTC Secretary Jim Gray signed an official order temporarily suspending certain restrictions on motor carriers engaged in restoring power, clearing debris and delivering fuel to impacted areas.

The order is effective through midnight on January 14, and may be extended if needed.

It temporarily relieves commercial drivers from maximum driving times and weigh station stops if providing response to affected areas.

In addition, it waives permit fees for overweight/over-dimensional vehicles.

Federal assistance for Kentucky

President Joe Biden will tour tornado damage in Kentucky on Wednesday, December 15.

According to the White House, the President will travel to Fort Campbell where he’ll get an update on the storm damage before travelling to Mayfield to get a closer look at the devastation.

“We will welcome him here. We will thank him for his help and, sadly, we will show him the worst tornado damage imaginable, certainly the worst in our history,” said Governor Beshear.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said he too will tour the damage later this week.

The Republican leader brought the tragedy to the Senate floor on Monday afternoon where he said, with the support of the entire country, western Kentucky will make it through to the other side.

“Kentucky’s state motto is ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ In this time of crisis, Kentuckians are standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and we will not fall,” he said.

McConnell said he is working closely with the President and governor to make sure every federal resource possible is sent to his state.

President Biden approved the emergency declaration Beshear requested early Saturday morning.

The declaration orders federal assistance to help with local response efforts.

So far, eight counties have been approved, which include Caldwell, Fulton, Graves and Marshall.

Aftermath on Saturday and Sunday

The governor took a tour of the damage on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon following the dangerous storms on Friday night, December 10.

During his visit to Mayfield on Saturday, he thanked first responders and local emergency management for their tireless efforts.

He said the damage is unlike anything he has ever seen and believes this will be the deadliest tornado in Kentucky history.

Drone12 video below shows the extent of some of the damage in Mayfield.

It’s believed that the preliminary EF3 tornado that hit Mayfield was on the ground more than 200 miles through Kentucky.

“It’s the longest tornado touchdown, distance-wise, in Kentucky’s history,” Beshear said.

He said the hardest-hit county appears to be Graves County, specifically Mayfield, where a roof collapse at a candle factory resulted in mass casualties.

This is Mayfield Consumer Products located at 112 Industrial Drive.

The building was flattened.

Rescue crews from Paducah and Murray responded to the factory shortly after it was hit.

Officials say efforts have been both difficult and grim. They worked tirelessly through the night to pull workers from the rubble.

At his news conference on Saturday morning, the governor said the last crews had not pulled a survivor from the rubble since 3:30 a.m.

Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason said they have found some victims alive.

“We had to, at times, crawl over casualties to get to live victims,” said Creason.

Beshear said at least 40 workers survived.

The storm also damaged a fire department and the police station in Mayfield.

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