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Search and rescue operations continue across several states after the devastation caused by the tornado outbreak in the central and southern U.S. Kentucky has reported scores of deaths after tornadoes tore across the western part of the state. Liam Niemeyer, assistant director at WKMS public radio joins.
For more on the kentucky tornado damage and deaths, I spoke with Liam Niemeyer, assistant news director at WKMS public radio.
Liam, if you can, tell me what the last 24 hours have been like for you and your community?
It's been, I'd say, the city of Mayfield, for example, is unrecognizable. Its people are still in shock. The clean up, as they say to me, it just started today. And, you know, entire streets of homes, the entire downtown court square in Mayfield is completely demolished. And there's also tornado damage and other small Western Kentucky communities, too, including Benton, Princeton, Madisonville. Y
ou know, there is a report of a death that's coming out of also Muhlenberg County, too. It's just been really, really traumatic. Lots of families lost homes, and I spoke with individuals who lost friends too, the city of Mayfield is only 10,000 people. And it's a lot more than just, you know, physical homes or physical churches.
It's hard for people who have not experienced a tornado or are living in that part of the country to get a sense of the scale of the devastation here. When you talk about a tornado going 200 miles across the state, I mean, that's just, you know, give us some idea of what that looks like as you were driving there or as you were driving away.
A way that I could put it is then our radio station as a signal that reaches across, you know, hundreds of square miles across mostly rural western Kentucky. When the tornado outbreak was happening Friday night, I've seen the tornado warnings stretching across hundreds of miles. And what started on the far end West End of the state was just shocking. And it's something that I mean simply is just not expected it or something that's so vast and the impact is so wide.
So give me a sense of what kind of relief services, what kind of infrastructure of support is in place now. Is the federal government, is the state government set up centers where people have shelter right now?
A lot of it is still in the works. Local churches and Graves County, Kentucky, where Mayfield is located, have offered shelter. The main triage center is currently at Mayfield High School. But there's still some concern about where to house people, especially considering it's getting colder with the storms moving past and this cold front moving in. Temperatures are now in the 30s, 40s and yeah, there's a great concern for shelter.
One of the things that the state has done is that they've opened up state resort parks near some local lakes and western Kentucky, where a room like, you know, rooms in various lodges are being offered. This afternoon, I'm going to be going to some of the local churches that are often sheltered soon. But as for now, in terms of a permanent solution, you know, these churches in Graves County are just seen as a temporary solution in terms of the longer term that's still being worked out at the moment.
There's been a lot of attention paid to this candle factory. Tell us a little bit about what this means to this community.
It was a local candle factory and you know, a lot of people more from the blue collar background work to there. Starting wages, that's been reported around $8. The owner of the candle factory put out a statement saying that, you know, the workers there, you know, they've come out, you know, provided resources to the workers there and that he considers the workers cherished.
But in terms of, you know, exactly the circumstances of why one hundred and ten people were working there at that point in time remains to be seen outside.
Liam Niemeyer joining us from Paducah, Kentucky, tonight. Thanks so much.
Thank you, Hari.
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