The mayor of Mayfield, Kentucky, said she was heartbroken as she looked out over the ruins following Friday’s tornado. While the storm stole so much from her town, Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said there were signs of hope.
Storms roared across five states late Friday and early Saturday. In Kentucky, a tornado collapsed buildings, flattened cities and towns, derailed a train, and killed more than 80 people. Emergency crews expect that to exceed 100 as rescue operations continue.
Mayfield Mayor O’Nan said her town looked “as if a bomb was dropped on it.”
“I remember walking out at 6:15 yesterday morning, and it was just the most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen,” told Sunday TODAY. “I hope to never see anything like that again.”
But there was something that stood out amidst the backdrop of destruction.
“What I did see though, and I’ve seen them pop up all over town as I drove around yesterday, the American flag from our fire station No.1 was damaged in the rubble across the street from the bank,” O’Nan said. “I got the flag, I walked across the street, I picked up the flag and I handed it to two of our firefighters who immediately began to fold in … that ceremonial, beautiful pattern.
“I thought, here we are standing in this rubble and the most important thing to us is being so tenderly taken care of. That flag is now safely in my care, and we will fly that flag ceremoniously when we recover.”
Kentucky Governor Details Storm Damage
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the storm will likely be the “longest and deadliest tornado event” in the nation’s history. It cut a path of destruction that stretched for more than 200 miles across his state.
“This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had…I’ve got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean, gone,” Beshear said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
In Mayfield, the tornado collapsed the roof of a candle factory and trapped more than 100 people inside. First responders rescued 40 of them, but Beshear fears the others may not have survived.
“I’m not sure that we’re going to see another rescue,” he said. “I pray for it, it would be an incredibly welcomed miracle, but I think it’s been since 3:30 yesterday morning that we found a live person.”
President Joe Biden called Saturday’s storms an unimaginable tragedy. He pledged the federal government’s full support in rescue and recovery efforts.
Charity organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, and the Red Cross have sent teams to the hardest-hit areas to aid the victims. The Weather Channel created a guide of how you can help donate to those efforts.