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Multiple deaths likely after factory destroyed in storms in Mayfield, Kentucky


The videos and pictures from downtown Mayfield, Ky., are heartbreaking. Buildings have been flattened, piles of splintered wood and rubble on so many blocks. This is just one of the places devastated by the severe storms and tornadoes that tore through several states in the Midwest and South last night. It is unclear right now how many people have lost their lives, though earlier today, Kentucky's governor, Andy Beshear, said the death toll in his state could reach as many as 100. We're joined now by Jesse Perry, Graves County judge executive. Judge Perry, thanks so much for being with us.

JESSE PERRY: Thank you.

SIMON: I gather you're currently with the governor. And can you tell us what the situation is like as we speak with you mid-morning?

PERRY: So far, the governor and I, we - and several others - we were on site where the storm went through, the tornado went through - part of the tracking there. So we - it was - there was a facility, manufacturing facility that had several folks working there. And there's lots of equipment there, lots of volunteers that are now going through, trying to work through finding folks and working through. But for Graves County, all the buildings downtown - courthouse, City Hall - barely standing now, leveled - a lot of homes.

And so now we're just going through as we are putting together volunteer groups and assessing the situation. We just got an uphill battle at this point. Some things that we're up against is there's no power. Food and water is being brought in, which - that's a blessing for our communities. But we're still having lots of volunteers and EMS and folks going door to door making sure to see that folks are OK in the path of the tornado, where the path went through.

SIMON: Yeah. Have you been able to speak with residents, Judge Perry?

PERRY: So this morning - my time is mixed up right now. I can't decide what time it is for me. But this morning, so we were transporting a lot of folks to the local Mayfield High School, a shelter that they have set up. And I was able to just visit there for a little bit. And so right now, we're in transition for those folks that are in the shelter to get them more of a permanent location because right now, currently there - again, Mayfield High School - there's no water. So anyway, just some more uphill battles that we're trying to work through.

SIMON: So there are people in town who need water, but volunteers are on the scene.

PERRY: Volunteers, EMS, law enforcement, yeah. It's just so many agencies that are on scene, yes, sir, and going through the different areas that are mapped where the tornado went through. So that's the process right now of, like you mentioned, the recovery side of it.

SIMON: Well, Judge Executive Jesse Perry talking to us from Mayfield, Ky. Thank you, sir, for all of your time. Good luck.

PERRY: Thank you. OK. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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