Deadly tornadoes slam through six states

By Fernando Alfonso III, Adrienne Vogt, Nadeem Muaddi, Nectar Gan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 1:39 a.m. ET, December 12, 2021
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1:08 p.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Kentucky governor says he fears that at least 70 people have died due to the storms

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (Kentucky Governor's Office)

At least 70 Kentuckians are likely dead following a devastating tornado system, Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news conference Saturday morning, adding “it may, in fact, exceed 100 before the day is done.”

“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history … The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen,” he said.
11:34 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Overnight storms killed 3 people in Tennessee, officials say

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Three people were killed in overnight storms in Tennessee, according to a news release from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

One person was killed in Obion County and two died in Lake County in the first wave of storms to hit the state.  

Lake and Obion counties are located north of Memphis in the state’s northwest corner.  

11:34 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Candle factory worker recounts being stuck under several feet of debris

Kyanna Parsons-Perez survived being trapped in a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, that was devastated by a tornado.

She said she and her coworkers were moved to a shelter area when suddenly the tornado came upon the building.

"We felt the wind. My ears started popping, and then it was like the building, like we all just rocked back and forth, and then boom, everything fell on us," she told CNN. "It was the most terrifying thing that I have ever experienced in my life."

She said it felt unreal, like being in a movie.

"At first, I was really calm, and I was trying to keep my coworkers calm ... but then, after being pinned down for so long, and my legs were hurting and I couldn't move them and I couldn't feel them and stuff like that, I started to panic myself," she said.

There were about 110 people inside the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory at the time the tornado hit, Gov. Andy Beshear said during a morning press conference, adding that "we believe we'll lose at least dozens of those individuals."

Parsons-Perez said she start shooting a live video on Facebook before the tornado hit.

She said coworkers were shouting out requests to call their families.

She was rescued after being pinned by a water fountain and air-conditioning unit. The first-responder who lifted her out told her there was 5 feet of debris on her.

Parsons-Perez said she knows one of the workers who died.

"No one expects to go to work and not come home. ... It is devastating. It breaks my heart," she said.

Parsons-Perez said she is going to go to the hospital soon because her head is hurting and she feels sore.


11:21 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Harris says devastation from the storms is "heartbreaking"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Vice President Kamala Harris said she and her husband were praying for the communities affected by this weekend's storms.

"The devastation for these communities is heartbreaking. Our Administration is working with state and local officials to support immediate assistance and rescue efforts in the affected areas," Harris tweeted.

Read the tweet:

11:16 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Kentucky men's basketball coach says the team is "devastated" by tornadoes

University of Kentucky men's basketball coach, John Calipari, said the team is "devastated" by the tornadoes that hit Kentucky late Friday.

Calipari said the team, which plays the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Indiana, later today, stopped by the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Notre Dame's campus to "pray for everyone affected." 

"We are devastated this morning seeing the images of what has happened in Western Kentucky and across our state," Calipari tweeted Saturday. "We cannot imagine what you are going through. We stopped by the Grotto on the way to shootaround to pray for everyone affected by last night. You are in our hearts." 

Calipari posted a picture of the team at Grotto.

The men's basketball team tweeted, "We love you, Kentucky."

11:04 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Family members search for unaccounted loved ones in Kentucky

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Nadia Romero

After a catastrophic tornado leveled the building, the families of workers at a Mayfield, Kentucky, candle factory are searching for loved ones who they haven't been able to reach hours after the storm.

Paige Tingle is looking for her mother-in-law, Jill Monroe. Tingle said the family last spoke with Monroe around 9:30 p.m. ET when she was in the bathroom in the safe shelter area. 

Currently, Tingle and her husband are driving from Oldham County, Kentucky to Mayfield. 

"[Monroe] has lung problems, she has heart problems," Tingle said. "We’ve got to get her." 

Tingle says that they have checked local hospitals, but Monroe has not been admitted. They have been calling her phone and it's still ringing, but no one has picked up.

Paducah, Kentucky, resident Ivy Williams told CNN his wife Janine Williams is also unaccounted for.  

Williams said he last heard from his wife last night before the tornado hit. His daughter told him that the factory was damaged, but when Williams arrived on the scene, he wasn't prepared to see the building was completely leveled. 

He told CNN that he even helped pull some people from the rubble. However, he still hasn't found his wife. 

"I'm looking for you, baby," Williams said. "We're all looking for you right now." 

10:51 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Aerial photos show storm damage in Mayfield, Kentucky

Whitney Westerfield, a certified drone operator and Kentucky state senator, shot drone videos and photos of the damage in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday morning.

Westerfield wasn’t sure what the buildings in the photo were.

Some of the nearby buildings appeared to be destroyed.

See the photos:

10:52 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

Kentucky governor says parts of towns in the state "are just gone"

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said damage is worse than previously thought in western Kentucky after deadly tornadoes ripped through the state.

"We have half of some of our towns here in western Kentucky that are just gone. It's hard to see," Beshear told CNN.

He said at least 50 people are dead, but he estimated there will be more fatalities.

At the site of a leveled candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, Beshear said there has not been a successful rescue since 3 a.m. ET.

"This tornado on the ground for 200-plus miles, everything in its wake is gone — homes, businesses, government buildings, just gone. There are pieces of industrial facilities in trees. It's hard to imagine that this is even possible," he said.

Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O'Nan told CNN that "it looks like a bomb has gone on off here."

Beshear said resources are in the process of being sent to damaged areas.

"The National Guard is being deployed both at this site and to even go house to house. I would say door to door, but most of them aren't standing," he said.

"We've requested an emergency declaration from the White House. That is in process. We are told it's going to happen and they are already sending resources our way. We've got first responders from all over the commonwealth, coming to where they're needed the most. Mayfield is ground zero," he said.

10:39 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

A possible "quad-state" tornado potentially cut a path 250 miles long

From CNN's Judson Jones

A plausible "quad-state" tornado potentially cut a path 250 miles long across four states Friday evening, leaving a path of devastation.

"The storm of this latest severe weather event tracked more than 250 miles through several states (including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky)," the National Weather Service in Little Rock tweeted. "One or more deadly tornadoes were spawned, with major structural damage noted."

It will take days for the National Weather Service to conduct reviews of the path and it likely won't be confirmed if this was one single tornado on the ground for the entirety or multiples until sometime next week.

As the storm was ongoing last night, the Storm Prediction Center said the long-track supercell in Kentucky had a nearly continuous tornado debris signature on radar for over three hours.

By the time the storm ended, it appears that the debris signature likely lasted continually for at least four hours.

To note: If confirmed that a single tornado tracked this entire distance of 250 miles across Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky, it would become the longest recorded single tornado path in history.

That length would make this 'quad-state' tornado longer than the historic 'tri-state' tornado in 1925, which traveled across Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and traveled 219 miles.

This single storm has reportedly caused considerable tornado damage in Monette, Arkansas, and Mayfield and Central City, Kentucky.

It will take days for the National Weather Service to conduct reviews of the path and we won't know if this was one single tornado or multiples until sometime next week.

Read the tweet: