Beshear: 9th candle factory death brings tornado death toll to 76

Mayfield candle factory
Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 20, 2021

Roughly 76 people are confirmed dead in the tornadoes that swept through western Kentucky, according to Governor Andy Beshear. There are no longer any Kentuckians who are considered missing from the storm.

Beshear said there are no longer any active search or rescue operations underway.

The tornadoes, one of which was rated an EF-4 by the National Weather Service, swept through several counties in western Kentucky, causing widespread damage.

Three people from Dawson Springs are believed to have been duplicated in reporting from two different counties, Beshear said, which would have dropped the death toll to 75 — until an employee wounded in a candle factory collapse in Mayfield, Ky. died from their injuries.

The death brings the fatality total from the candle factory up to 9 — still fewer than initially anticipated after more than 90 workers were inside the building when tornadoes tore through the region.

Meanwhile, Beshear said a recent toy drive had brought in truckloads of donations from all over the country for western Kentucky kids who lost their homes and possessions in the storms just two weeks before Christmas.

“This world has shown us that they love us,” Beshear said during a Monday news briefing.

The toys for storm-affected families will be distributed at five sites, or Christmas storefronts, that will offer parents a chance to shop for toys for their children, Beshear said. The storefronts will be open Tuesday and Thursday.

“It’s amazing, because these kiddos, they’ve seen things that we can’t imagine,” Beshear said. “And it’s heartbreaking. But, thanks to the generosity of not just this state but the entire country, they will now have a real Christmas, full of so many gifts.”

The toy drive, which is now closed for donations, was organized by Kentucky first lady Britainy Beshear.

The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief fund, established by Beshear the day after the tornadoes hit, has received 112,079 donations totaling $21,483,814. Those funds will go to helping residents affected by the tornadoes recover both in short- and long-term ways.