MAYFIELD, Ky. (BP) – Rescue efforts were underway Saturday as first responders, family members and neighbors worked to find missing people in five Mid-South states. The death toll topped more than 70 as tornadoes and hurricane-force, straight-line winds ripped across Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee during the early hours of the morning.
“This will probably be recorded as the most devastating night in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
Dozens of people lost their lives in a candle factory as they worked in Mayfield as the small west Kentucky town was ripped to shreds by a powerful tornado.
Warren County (Ky.) Coroner Kevin Kirby said they were working 11 storm-related deaths in the Bowling Green area.
Beshear said up to 70 people may have lost their lives across 10 counties affected by the storm system in Kentucky.
A direct hit to a nursing home in Craighead County, Arkansas, left at least one dead and several injured at Monette Manor, according to Marvin Day, county judge-executive. Another nursing home was caught up in the storms leaving another person dead, officials said.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is reporting at least three dead across Tennessee. Two people were killed in Lake County and one in Obion County.
Police reported at least one fatality in Edwardsville, Illinois, as a tornado hit an Amazon distribution site.
Bryant Wright, SEND Relief president, called on Southern Baptists to pray for those affected by the tragedy. “Let’s give generously to help these people recover, clean up and rebuild,” he added.
SEND Relief has set up a donation site for those wishing to make a monetary donation for relief.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, expressed concern for those affected by the storms. “Please join me in praying for those impacted and the many SBC DR volunteers who will be responding,” he posted on Twitter.
Wright asked for prayer for “the many SBC state Disaster teams who are mobilizing volunteers to go in and serve those who are hurting.”
Coy Webb, crisis relief director for SEND Relief, told Baptist Press he had been in contact with disaster relief directors in the states affected by the storms throughout the day Saturday. He said plans are being made to send DR workers to affected areas.
Webb said the best way for Southern Baptists to make an impact is through prayer and by giving financially.
Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer, knows the days of grief and recovery will be long, but said “we will pull together today and in the weeks ahead to serve our neighbors in the name of Jesus,” he said.