Dec 13, 2021
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Press Conference Transcript: Tornado Damage
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gave an update on tornado damage during a press conference on December 13, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Governor Andy Beshear: (00:00)
… In its path. Thousands of homes are damaged, if not entirely destroyed, and it may be weeks before we have final counts on both deaths and levels of destruction. We lost lives in at least eight counties, and at least 18 counties suffered damage.
Governor Andy Beshear: (00:25)
As of this morning, our best count for confirmed deaths, the most accurate count we have as of this morning are 64 Kentuckians. Remember, this is fluid and the numbers will change and sometimes they have, thank God, gone down. Other times, they’ve gone up. It breaks down as follows: 20 in Graves, 13 in Hopkins, 11 in Muhlenberg. I think that’s been reported as 12. We believe it is 11. 12 in Warren, four in Caldwell, one at in Marshall, one in Taylor, one in Fulton, and one in Lyon. There will be more. We believe it’ll certainly be above 70, maybe even 80, but again, with this amount of damage and rubble it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives.
Governor Andy Beshear: (01:48)
Currently, we believe there are at least 105 Kentuckians on the count of Muhlenberg, but we are still working to find. Currently, we have 300 National Guard assisting rescue and recovery efforts, a few more than that. Hundreds of state employees from the Transportation Cabinet, the Division of Forestry are clearing roads. We saw a little light of hope yesterday and we were actually able, in Mayfield, to get from just clearing roads to starting to haul debris away, I believe that’s the same in Muhlenberg County from my conversation with the judge this morning. I work directly with groups to get cell service back in Hopkins, Marshall, and I think it’s up and going in Fulton County as well, working on Hickman. To recap, we declared a state of emergency roughly midnight, before midnight, before the storm really hit.
Governor Andy Beshear: (02:42)
We received immediate federal emergency declaration, I believe on Sunday, which is the fastest we’ve ever seen and last night we received a federal declaration of major emergency, I think the fastest that has ever been issued, and we are really grateful. From FEMA, Gracia Szczech is here with us and is going to give us an update on what that means, but it’s really good news for our families. It means FEMA is going to be on the ground documenting losses at people’s homes, helping them go ahead and file their claims. Again, I believe this is the most rapid response by the federal government in the history of the United States of America and we need it and we are really grateful for it, and then Michael Dossett will go over a few other things here in a minute. New pieces out today, and I have a lot of pieces of paper here.
Governor Andy Beshear: (03:47)
I’m going to work through them the best I can, is I’m ordering flags to half staff in honor of those lost and those suffering from this tornado. So, all state office buildings will be lowered to half staff for one week in honor of the Kentuckians who were killed and/or severely impacted. So, they should be lowered beginning at sunrise Tuesday, December 14th, and remain so until sundown Monday, December 20th, I’m asking businesses, other states, to join us in the recognition of our Kentuckians who are struggling so badly. Next update, some potential good news from the candle factory in Mayfield, we are actively working to confirm this information. All of this is being reported by the business. We pray that it is true, but we are working to confirm it. So according to the business, 110 individuals, 94 are alive and have been accounted for. Again, we are working to confirm that.
Governor Andy Beshear: (05:08)
Eight are dead, we found eight bodies, and eight are missing. We feared much, much worse, and again, I pray that it is accurate, but with no phones, with 15-plus feet of wreckage that had a dozen backhoes trying to pull things off of it, there was no way at the time to know how many individuals made it out, so we very much hope that that is true. We have opened up our state parks for housing for impacted families. Pennyrile is already full. I think we have 100-plus adults and a lot of kids that are out there. We’re going to guarantee at least two weeks of stay. There may be other options by the end of that, but we’re not going to let any of our folks go homeless. We currently have distressed families at Kenlake and Kentucky Dam Village.
Governor Andy Beshear: (06:15)
Currently, we have some openings. I’m working with the county judge, Judge Perry, in Graves County to move people from a warming center or shelter to these rooms. We’ve got at least 58 rooms open at Kenlake. Kentucky Dam Village we have 30 open. If we can get power to Lake Barkley, we’ll open up about 50 more. We do need a little bit of help. We need some volunteers to help us staff the state park. It’ll be things like washing dishes and washing clothes, but we could really use that help. So, if you are looking for place to be of assistance, you can contact director Andy Kasitz. His name’s Andy at (502) 418-3581. His email, andy.kasitz, K-A-S-I-T-Z@ky.gov. I hope he’s flooded with calls and emails and we can put as many people to work helping our people out as possible.
Governor Andy Beshear: (07:35)
Just a few more facts about those we’ve lost, 18 are still unidentified. Of the ones that we know, the age range is five months to 86 years and six are younger than 18. Help keeps pouring in from all over the country, thank you to everyone. We feel your love here in Kentucky. The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, now 31,279 donations, over $4 million raised into it thus far. Do we have the website? Those that would like to help us, that’s teamwkyrelieffund.ky.gov.
Governor Andy Beshear: (08:42)
This is a fund associated with the state. They’re going to be fully transparent on how it is spent. There will be no administrative fees taken out of it. All of it is going to go to help these families. Today we’re announcing the first expenditure from that. We are going to be providing $ 5,000 and burial expenses for each family that has lost a loved one. We are going to ask the funeral home or group helping out to not charge the families beyond that $5,000. We just have to be able to grieve together and no one’s going to have to apply. We’re going to work with our vital statistics group for everyone who’s been identified and we’re going to work to reach out and contact those families directly.
Governor Andy Beshear: (09:41)
Right now, we think we have about 30,000 Kentucky homes that are without power. Significant debris removal going on right now, but there’s just a mountain of waste. It is going to take a significant amount of time. We’ve got significant livestock dead in all of the areas. There’s ongoing cleanup with that too. Department for Community Based Services in Mayfield suffered damage, cannot serve the public at this time. A mobile unit is in process to get down there, so it can provide those continuing needed services. Those that have needs for the Department for Community Based Services can call 1-855-306-8959, or applying for help online through the connect site. Walgreens in Mayfield is the only pharmacy that has been open. Starting today, Walmart plans to open for prescription fulfillment, this in Mayfield. If you need a refill, it’d help if you can bring your medication bottles, but the pharmacy recognize that you probably don’t have them.
Governor Andy Beshear: (11:09)
So, if you have a list of your medications, that would be helpful too. Mayfield Nursing and Rehab has been closed due to storm damage and will need to rebuild. All residents have been relocated. Kentucky State Police is asking, especially in the Graves County area, for any family members of missing loved ones, you should report to the office building of His House Ministries to provide a reference standard to law enforcement for identification purposes. It’s located at 1250 KY 303 in Mayfield. Anybody who needs assistance in getting there, call (859) 267-7775. Kentucky State Police is also using rat rapid DNA technology to assist in the identification-
Governor Andy Beshear: (12:03)
Using rapid DNA technology to assist in the identification of victims. So they’re requesting any family members of missing loved ones to come to that same building, to submit DNA so that they can match. Kentucky State Police is also working to verify the information on the candle factory. I know, like the folks in Western Kentucky, I’m not doing so well today and I’m not sure how many of us are. I was working on getting the confirmed deaths this morning and realized I was writing on the back of notes that one of my kids took from school. And here’s what it is. It’s notes on inertia. It means that an object that’s in motion will stay in motion. So we’re going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and push through this. Everybody out there, get the help you need, take care of yourself, and we’ll continue to provide updates. To the people of Western Kentucky, we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be with you today. We’re going to be with you tomorrow, and we’re going to be there with you to rebuild. This is one state with people that love one another. And I think everybody in Kentucky, but also everybody in the country is standing with you. And with that, I’ll turn it over to Director Dossett.
Director Michael Dossett: (13:44)
Thank you, Governor. And good morning. So I’m going to give you an overall update of operations. The state EOC is an operation at level three. We have an extraordinary compliment of state and federal personnel, probably numbering 80 to a hundred right now. These folks will be on duty each day and every day, including the weekends to answer the requests from our counties and to render assistance. So we have representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the National Guard, Forestry Law Enforcement, Energy Sector, Sheltering Volunteer Organization, Parks, Red Cross. We’ve established an aircraft command and control section for over flights to survey the damage. So now, I’ll go into some of the power numbers. And Governor, there’s been some good news. Within the last 10 minutes, the numbers dropped again. We are literally at 28,000, I’m sorry, 28,531 outages as of this moment.
Director Michael Dossett: (14:44)
This is a remarkable outcome when you look at the damage that has been impacted across our Commonwealth. So approximately 95% of potentially impacted power lines have been assessed. That’s a big thing. In most of these events, the power companies can’t get to the lines even to perform the assessments. So 95% have been completed. There’s some bad news with the good news. There are still 29 transmission lines. These are the lines that feed from the power plants. If you recall, in the ice storm, you saw collapse of these massive towers that run across our state. We have had that, and the restoration will be weeks to months for these. So we’ll have a small number that feed off these transmission lines that are still out. We have at least 97 power structures damaged. Several local power companies have extensive damage to their own distribution systems and they’re underway, certainly.
Director Michael Dossett: (15:44)
Mutual aid crews from across other states are arriving daily. We have, and this is just an estimate of three companies, and we have a number of them and I’ll go through them. We have 8,000 power poles. These are the ones in your neighborhood that are down. They have to be dug, replaced, wire strung. So it’s a massive effort. Eight of the most impacted local power companies, West Kentucky, Rural Electric Cooperative, Lexington Electric, Nashville Electric, Memphis Light Gas and Water, Warren Rural Electric, Murray Electric, Bowling Green Municipality, and Mayfield Electric. So we have water systems also impacted. Three systems currently not operational with 10,400 customers. 11 systems currently with limited operational capabilities for about 17,000 customers. These are boil water advisories. We’re certainly familiar with those in other impacts. The division continues to coordinate with all municipal utilities. We are delivering generators as we speak. Our regional administrator will speak to some of the generation opportunities and things they’re bringing over target here in a second.
Director Michael Dossett: (17:08)
In Graves, in Mayfield, they’re experiencing overload in some circuits and that is to be expected because of the level of power that they’re trying to restore. Generators arrived at the Mills Nursing and Rehabilitation this morning and they’ve restored heat. We’re coordinating with FEMA, the US Corps of Engineers and Department of Public Health to provide water. Certainly, water’s in high demand in Mayfield and in other communities. We are bulk drop-shipping water, bottled water to command centers across the state in the impact area. We have requested and received…
Director Michael Dossett: (17:51)
And again, folks, I can’t stress the amount of federal support that came so quickly. I can tell you from just being a veteran of now 17 disasters, it takes time to get wheels rolling. We had USAR teams, these are Federal Urban Search and Rescue teams on the ground before I had finished submitting the request. Gracia Szczech just overnight, approved three additional USAR teams to do wide area searches. We were doing the known impact, and now we have to search all of the [inaudible 00:18:30] areas. The four elements of those teams arrived last night when they were requested yesterday, so folks, pulling out all the stops. In Hopkins, we’re assisting, providing generation to Dawson Springs Independent School. That’s a key issue that was assessed last night, and we’ll have something on the way. In Dawson Springs, obviously, electric is still down and water is being reestablished. Verizon also set some mobile cellular units in place last night.
Director Michael Dossett: (19:06)
So with that, restoration is ongoing. This again, is not going to be a week or a month operation folks. This will go on for years to come. This is a massive event, the largest and most devastating in Kentucky’s history. And I’ll close with saying the key here is our thoughts and prayers and our hearts go out to all of the victims, to all of the families and to the families of those who are still missing. This is a horrific event and prayers will help. Now I’ll introduce Gracia Szczech. Gracia was with the Governor and I yesterday, as we, again, toured the area with the Secretary of DHS, Alejandro Mayorkas. It’s always a challenge to pronounce the Secretary’s name. And also, Gracia’s immediate boss, the FEMA Administrator, Deanne Criswell. These were remarkable folks. I spent the day with them. The Governor was with them. They get it and they care. And Gracia in syncing with Administrator Criswell and Secretary Mayorkas had our application all the way to the White House with approvals, waiting for the signed document. And that’s how quick this thing moves. So thank you, Gracia, and please update us on FEMA.
Gracia Szczech: (20:49)
Governor, Director Dossett, thank you. Yesterday meant so much to the Secretary, to the Administrator to really see. And as they said, the pictures didn’t do anything, what we saw on the ground. And such an impact. And as director Dossett said, our hearts and prayers and thoughts go to the families. For the families who lost loved ones, for the families who suffered such incredible damages from what we saw. And last night, as you heard, the President did declare a major declaration and this included eight counties, and I’ll read those counties off. It is for Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor and Warren counties. And that’s just the beginning. We will work with the state on identifying other counties to get them added on. What this means is that there is assistance for individuals, for homeowners, for renters. They need to apply for FEMA assistance.
Gracia Szczech: (21:59)
The Administrator did say yesterday, the first line of defense is insurance. Make sure if you have insurance, that is your… You’ve already called them. But we also encourage everyone to apply for FEMA assistance, and that comes in various ways. And I know we’ve given the slide to the Governor’s office, so we’ll make sure that gets out there into the media. You can go to the app, you can apply online at disaster assistance… I’ll probably make it easier, I’m sorry. Disasterassistance.gov. One word, disasterassistance.gov. Or you can call the FEMA hotline at 1-800-621-FEMA. And that’s 1-800-621-3362. We will have people out. They are disaster survivor assistance teams. They’re going to be out in those counties that have been declared. And we may even have people as soon as today. I will get an update of that.
Gracia Szczech: (23:07)
But you’ll see them. They’ll be in FEMA shirts, they’ll have a FEMA ID and they’ll be carrying an iPad. They’re going to go door to door. They’re going to go where they see people working on their homes, and try to get them registered and making sure that they’re already into that system. And a person will receive a nine digit number and they need to make sure they keep that number because they can keep going back online and checking their registration and the status of that. So don’t hesitate when you see a FEMA person with FEMA ID come up to you. And talk with them, because you may also be able to tell them where we may find other survivors to bring that assistance to them and get them registered. That is the key message today of that, is to register, register, register in any one of those three ways.
Gracia Szczech: (24:03)
Register, register, register in any one of those three ways, and there’s going to be various forms of assistance available to those that are eligible. That’s in forms of a low interest loan with the Small Business Administration to grants, which could include temporary housing, rental assistance, repairs, other needs assistance, such as medical. We heard people lost their prescriptions, dental, and funeral assistance. So again, I encourage everybody to register, and when you register, one thing that is important is to make sure you give a number of where you can be reached. You may be staying with family and friends. You may have lost your cell phone. Make sure you give a number of where you can be reached, because a housing inspector will be reaching out to you. So that’s the disaster assistance piece.
Gracia Szczech: (25:02)
Now, what came along with the major declaration for those eight counties is also Category A. Counties were already declared for Category B, which was emergency protective measures over time, things that you did in times of the storms for the police, the first responders, the vehicles they used, but also it was available for debris clearance, pushing debris off to the roadside. Now they have received Category A, which is debris clearance or debris removal. That is the actual removal of debris that they may be eligible to be reimbursed up to 75% by the federal government.
Gracia Szczech: (25:47)
So I know we spoke about it yesterday. I encourage those public officials to document, document, document. We will have people out on the ground. We have FEMA people, Army Corps of Engineer people out on the ground, doing debris surveys. They’re linking up with the local entities to help guide them through what they need to do, but also looking at possibly private property debris removal, demolition. I know that’s a lot of questions that are going to be asked, so we’d like to get those answers as quickly as possible so everything is done the right way so that it could be eligible.
Gracia Szczech: (26:28)
Then also we have subject matter experts looking at the water and wastewater systems to see what we can do for emergency repairs, because we know it’s important to get those up and running. So we will be working with the locals and state, and again, all of this is in support of the state. They are locked tight with us. There’s no shadows between us. So that’s what we’re doing, and as Director Dossett spoke about, yes, we have four urban search and rescue teams on the ground, one being at the candle factory, where the three others are in Graves County, and they’re doing the primary and secondary searches. They’ve already begun those this morning, and you’ll see mobile emergency response support vehicles supporting all of these field elements and the communities with communications and helping them in the short-term need for communications.
Gracia Szczech: (27:28)
We have housing experts on the ground today, because that’s a big question also. We know that there’s going to be a need for housing. It’s how we get there together, because we know Kentucky’s resilient, and we need to work together to get to housing. We’re going to strategize with the state on this, and this is for both short- and long-term housing. Then in regards to commodities, we have water, meals, cots and blankets for 15,000 people per day, and we continue to move trucks in every day. Then as was discussed, we have additional water that’s already been delivered. Director Dossett, we together have been able to do assessments for generators and provide generators to critical public places. So again, it’s a great partnership that we are here to support the state in any of their needs, and we will continue to be here. So thank you again, Governor.
Governor Andy Beshear: (28:28)
All right. We’ll open it up to questions. We’ve got five that are here with us today, five journalists, and others on the line. So we’ll start with Georgia MacArthur. Okay. We’ll go to Carolina.
Governor, your voice was shaking this morning. You nearly broke down as you were announcing some of the ages. How are you feeling? How are the people of Western Kentucky feeling, the [inaudible 00:29:04]? Just how is everyone doing?
Governor Andy Beshear: (29:08)
I mean, the people of Western Kentucky have gone through an unspeakable trauma. I mean, it’s traumatic. You can be there helping. You go from grief to shock to being resolute span of 10 minutes, and then you go back. It’s hard to understand how something like this or why something like this happens. It is just awful. The people who lost everything, but are still here with us, it’s hard to think of them as lucky, but … This is really hard, but we’re going to make it. We put one foot in front of the other, make sure we have the inertia, and we’ll rebuild. There’s going to be grief. There’s going to be cleanup, but then we’re going to make sure that everybody gets back on their feet. We do have a lot of support out there. I mean, the whole country is calling and trying to help. Actually, one of the biggest challenges we have in these counties is too much in many ways, how to coordinate an unprecedented amount of goods and of volunteers. But there’s a lot of love out there. Phil?
Have you heard from the president on when he might be in Kentucky [inaudible 00:30:35] the damage?
Governor Andy Beshear: (30:36)
We’ve heard that the president is coming to Kentucky, and we are working to coordinate a visit. We don’t have any details yet about it. But President Biden called me three times on Saturday and has moved faster than we’ve ever seen on getting us the aid we need. We will welcome him here. We will thank him for his help. Sadly, we’ll show him the worst tornado damage imaginable, certainly the worst in our history. Tom?
Thank you, Governor. I’ll [inaudible 00:31:19] out pretty quick … the housing FEMA helps with, will that include the trailers that we remember from Katrina and what have you, and can you for clarification’s sake explain what a reference standard is? Most people don’t understand what that is. Is that DNA? Is the photos? Is it-
Governor Andy Beshear: (31:40)
Oh. So the Kentucky State Police if you’re missing a loved one are going to need information, photos, whatever you can bring about your loved one that would help identify them. I’d bring as much as you can, and then they’re going to take a DNA sample from you if you are related to them probably for the worst case of the worst. We still have an identified bodies. We will call out as many National Guard as are needed. In many ways, it’s almost limitation by equipment, right? Because what is needed. There is still search and rescue going on. But at some point, that will switch to debris removal. We’re assisting in some law enforcement capacities, but as power gets back up, that’ll probably change, too. If we need more, we’ll have more. What was the last one?
Oh, FEMA housing.
Governor Andy Beshear: (32:45)
So FEMA housing is an ongoing conversation. We want to make sure that we get the most effective form. I think there’s RVs. I think that there are the type that you referenced. One thing FEMA’s learned about us, though, is we take care of us, and people have opened up their homes already. Every time a house has power that comes back on, it’s not just one family that’s going to it. It’s them and all their friends and maybe somebody they met just the day before. Kioti?
Good morning, Governor.
Governor Andy Beshear: (33:21)
As we’re learning the details this morning from the [inaudible 00:33:30], going forward, do you have any recommendations on procedures or different scenarios that could take place if another event like this gets in place in the future?
Governor Andy Beshear: (33:40)
Well, it’s too early in where we are to know any changes that ought to be made in the future. I believe that this is going to end up being an E5 tornado, which you can have the warnings, but what do you do, right? The homes this hit, if you haven’t been down there, it didn’t take the roof off. That’s what we’re used to seeing with tornadoes, right? That if you get to your safe place, you’re safe. You get to the basement, you’re safe. There’s no safe place when you get hit by something like this.
Governor Andy Beshear: (34:16)
I’m sure that we will look at what procedures the facility had. That’s natural, but it’s still too early, and we may well have to live with the idea that some storms are so powerful that what we can do to protect ourselves is limited. I really hope the information is correct and is verified, because if 94 folks are safe and accounted for, that’s the miracle we’ve been hoping for for a couple of days. Very first place I went was that factory, and the 94 must have been folks that had left before, because it’s hard to imagine surviving once it hit. Did you have one more?
Governor Andy Beshear: (35:10)
This day, December 13th, one year ago, we watched vaccines arrive to Kentucky.
Governor Andy Beshear: (35:18)
We’re still in a pandemic while this crisis in Western Kentucky, across the state is impacting us. One year later, just your thoughts right now with what’s going on with Kentucky.
Governor Andy Beshear: (35:33)
It’s hard. We’ve had a pandemic. The last two years, we’ve had a historic ice storm. We had flooding that had some of our Eastern Kentucky towns underwater, and now we have this. We’ll push through all of it, because we don’t have a choice, and we’re strong enough to do it. John Boyle, WFPL.
Hi, Governor. I wanted to speak specifically about the candle factory. Obviously-
I wanted to speak specifically about that candle factory. Obviously that’s a big, big development if it does turn out to be true. And I know you guys are working on confirming it. But I wanted to get a sense from you how confident the state is in that information at this point in the process. And then a little bit of I guess specific details on the ways you guys are working through it to verify that this information is correct.
Governor Andy Beshear: (36:28)
We’re verifying the information so I don’t have a level of confidence yet. This is information provided directly by the company. Kentucky State Police is working through the list of individuals they’ve found. We just want to make sure they are okay. Then we need to prove whatever documentation it would take to establish the number of people who were there that we have to account for. We believe it’s 110. We just want to make sure. So I can’t give you a level of confidence, but this is the information the company’s providing, and so I want to provide it to the public and very much hope that it’s true. I think the company’s also pledged to cover funeral expenses of their families. Jack Brammer from the Herald-Leader.
Jack Brammer: (37:26)
Governor, of the 64 people confirmed dead, do you know how many have been identified, and of the 105 Kentuckians unaccounted for, do you have a county-by-county breakdown of those folks?
Governor Andy Beshear: (37:44)
I don’t have a county-by-county breakdown with me now. We will work on getting that, and remember that’s fluid because people have to report somebody as missing. So 18 of the 64 to my knowledge are unidentified. I’m not going to try to do math up here, but if you do the subtraction there you’ll get the identification. WDRB. Nope. Okay. Newsy. Nope. Okay. Corinne Boyer.
Corinne Boyer: (38:37)
Hi, governor. Your office put out a warning Friday afternoon about the weather that was to hit on Friday evening. Do we know what kind of warning people at the candle factory received?
Governor Andy Beshear: (38:52)
Well, the information was absolutely out in the public about a strong set of storms that could produce tornadoes. We knew we were going to have a significant weather event. But you can stand in the middle of Mayfield and … I don’t think anyone could have predicted something as devastating as this is. I do believe there were warnings. I believe for days people were advised. I don’t fault warning systems. I don’t fault training. I don’t know about the procedures in the candle factory. I don’t have any reason to fault that either. I mean how do you tell people that there’s going to be one of the most powerful tornadoes in history and it’s going to come directly through your building? It’s another reason it just makes it really hard. The why is an answer that we’ll get one day, but not one I think that we’ll get on this Earth. Debbie Yetter, The Courier-Journal.
Debbie Yetter: (40:09)
Hi governor. I’m here. I wanted to ask, in terms of the candle factory have the owners been cooperating or coordinating with emergency authorities? And ultimately whose responsibility is it for establishing the deaths? I presume they aren’t the official person to do that. Finally, is the search and rescue still going on at the candle factory, and what are you all finding?
Governor Andy Beshear: (40:33)
The owners made several contacts yesterday including to my office. We put them in touch, we’re staying in the room, with the coordinators there on the ground. The company does know or should know, right, who was there, who works for them. So they’re an integral part of being able to contact folks. And remember, you couldn’t contact folks for a significant period of time. In fact, I was working with AT&T directly yesterday that got three different counties up that had been entirely out. And it’s really hard to do search and rescue to help to communicate with each other without it. The Kentucky State Police is the group that’s currently verifying the information, and once that’s verified it will become official. Again, really hope, really hope it’s real. Remember, if the company’s information is correct, there’s still at least eight unidentified individuals.
Governor Andy Beshear: (41:43)
So that operation is continuing right now. It’s pretty much two 12-hour shifts, one Louisville and one Lexington are managing. They sent down some incredible folks, well-trained for it. They’re coordinating with Mayfield’s fire chief. Both the fire chief and the police chief in Mayfield are doing a phenomenal job. Police chief talked yesterday about how he had to take time to figure out which of his officers have homes anymore. That they’d been running for 36 hours before they could breathe and say, “Do you have any place to go home to to rest?” But the fire chief specifically wanted to thank Lexington, and Louisville, and so many others out there. But the mayors of both those towns that have reached out, have said, “What do you need?” Put them in direct contact with others. But everybody out there … I mean when I was in Dawson, most of the volunteers were from Madisonville, which had been spared and had come to help. Jim Bellissimo from Fox 17.
Speaker 1: (42:59)
Amanda Macias [inaudible 00:43:00].
Governor Andy Beshear: (43:00)
Yeah. Okay. Amanda Macias from CNBC.
Amanda Macias: (43:08)
Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I wanted to ask about the initial cost assessments for the damage to your state, and if you think you have enough of the financial assistance or you may potentially need more. My second question, are there any big businesses or corporations that have reached out and pitched in?
Governor Andy Beshear: (43:26)
Oh, there are so many. I almost want to say that every business has called or tried to call. I had a voicemail from the CEO of Amazon. I guess he’s the CEO of Amazon, he can find my number. And his first name’s Andy. Who knew? But all over, and it’s actually really hard to process the requests. It’s wild when you have like a Fortune 50 company and you say, “I’ll make that call back when I can.” The love has been unbelievable, and I guess that’s what keeps you going, both from your neighbors and the rest.
Governor Andy Beshear: (44:12)
I don’t have yet an estimate on damages, but it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars at least. I said this yesterday, there is not a lens big enough to capture the devastation. And everybody who’s come in from FEMA and Homeland have said the same. You stand in the middle of Mayfield, or Dawson where two thirds of the town are gone, or in that town in Muhlenberg County, and it’s almost crushing how it feels. But again, whatever the cost I know our federal partners are there with us. We will spare no expense by the state.
Governor Andy Beshear: (45:02)
I’m going to spend as much of today as I can ensuring, whether it’s state parks or others, that we’ve got a warm place for our families to sleep. And then turning tomorrow or the next day I’m going to make sure that we come together to make sure these families can celebrate Christmas too. We lost some kids, and we have some kids that lost their homes. And at this time of year, especially as a person of faith, I want to make sure that we can be there for them. And I know now I said that there’s going to be another round of support that comes out there. All right. I appreciate it.
Speaker 1: (45:43)
Governor Andy Beshear: (45:44)
Oh. Karyn Czar. Karyn, last question because this is about all I can do.
Karyn Czar: (45:48)
Thanks governor. I apologize. I actually have two. Thank you to you and thank you to your team for getting us info so quickly over the weekend. First, to citizens who want to go in and help I know you had said it’s best for people to stay away. But are there any types of expertise where it would be a help and not a hindrance? Then the second question is, obviously this also brings out the worst in people. We’ve seen some of the best. But how do you identify and report scams? Thank you.
Governor Andy Beshear: (46:18)
Well, identify and report scams both locally. The attorney general’s office I know has also pledged its support. The price gouging statute is in effect. That’s also the attorney general’s office. So report to them if all of a sudden gas goes through the roof or building materials go through the roof. Sadly, we have seen that sometimes, but I hope that we won’t see it here. A tragedy of this level, hopefully no one will try to take advantage of. What was her other … What was the other question Karyn?
Karyn Czar: (46:57)
Governor Andy Beshear: (46:58)
Oh. Well, first we do need help at our state parks, and that doesn’t take any expertise at all. Just chipping in and helping to do the things that support these families. I believe right now that the expertise that is needed is there. All right. Tell our folks in Western Kentucky, stay strong. To the rest of Kentucky, if it hurts it’s because you care. To all of you, we love you. We’re going to be with you today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.