"One tornado in Kentucky stayed on the ground for over 200 miles. This was potentially the longest continuous path of any tornado in U.S. history.… Even in the face of such tragedy, we can be confident that Kentucky will bounce back. We are strong, and we are united. We will come back bigger and better than ever before.”
Tornado damage after an F5 tore through Moore Oklahoma leaving a car on a pile of rubble that used to be a home - Editorial stock photo by Heysuzhunter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the tornadoes in Western Kentucky:
“The tornadoes that hit Kentucky this past weekend were some of the most widespread, severe, and devastating in our state’s history.
“It is still difficult to comprehend the vast scope of this storm. Nearly forty tornadoes touched down across six states. One tornado in Kentucky stayed on the ground for over 200 miles. This was potentially the longest continuous path of any tornado in U.S. history.
“Towns have been reduced to rubble. Families are picking up pieces of their shattered lives. Most tragically, our Governor announced today that more than 60 Kentuckians are confirmed to have lost their lives. Many more remain unaccounted for.
“This is the worst storm to hit Kentucky in my lifetime. The tornadoes caused considerable damage in fifteen counties across the Commonwealth. Thousands lost their homes. Tens of thousands are still without power.
“This was, in the words of one meteorologist, ‘the worst-case scenario’ for destruction. And it came during the Christmas season. Families are supposed to be gathering soon for rest, relaxation, and reunion. Now so many Kentuckians are facing just the opposite.
“The whole country is becoming acquainted with Mayfield, Kentucky, likely our hardest-hit city.
“Mayfield is a town of ten thousand in the Jackson Purchase. It’s been known for the beautiful Greek-revival façade of the Mayfield First United Methodist Church.
“Now First United is completely gone and the town is leveled to the ground.
“Mayfield’s candle factory was operating in full swing this weekend to keep up with Christmas demand. It was once a mainstay of the community, employing hundreds.
“On Friday night, the factory was turned into a scene of absolute horror. Many of the employees who were working that evening are feared dead. Rescue operations are ongoing. At least forty employees were rescued initially. One was saved after being trapped under five feet of rubble for hours. The devastation there is absolute.
“The tornado was so powerful that it ripped twenty-seven train cars off their tracks in Earlington and scattered them across a field.
“A family photograph that was picked up by the storm in Dawson Springs, Kentucky was carried nearly 130 miles by the wind and discovered in Indiana.
“All across Western Kentucky, residents spent their Saturday and Sunday clearing debris and collecting clothes and possessions that had been scattered. Families were left to inspect the cinder blocks where their houses once stood. The cheery lights of Christmastime have been replaced by destruction.
“Kentucky has been devastated. But we have not been defeated.
“Kentuckians are resilient people. We will stay strong and unified through this crisis.
“I am incredibly grateful to the first responders who have been on the ground since the outset of this crisis: Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky State Police, sheriff’s departments, city and local law enforcement, EMS responders, firefighters, doctors, and nurses. Quick thinking and selfless actions saved lives.
“Hard-hit communities are receiving an outpouring of support from across the Commonwealth and the country.
“Americans near and far are coming together to donate food, blood, resources, and shelter to those in need.
“Businesses and individuals are helping fund relief efforts and donating to assist the storm’s victims.
“Like many of my fellow Kentuckians, I was incredibly touched by the support offered by the University of Kentucky basketball team this weekend.
“While visiting the University of Notre Dame, they led a deeply emotional moment of silence before their game on Saturday night. The team visited the school’s Grotto to light candles for storm victims and pray for recovery.
“We were all praying alongside them.
“Madam President, Kentucky’s state motto is ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’ In this time of crisis, Kentuckians are standing shoulder to shoulder. And we will not fall.
“At every level of local, state, and federal government, across both parties, Kentucky’s leaders have come together to coordinate and provide aid.
“Toward the end of the week, I will travel back to Kentucky to meet with my constituents and visit the areas affected by this storm. My team has been working non-stop to ensure Kentuckians receive the help they need.
“I have worked closely with President Biden and Governor Beshear to ensure every federal resource possible is deployed to our state.
“Kentucky’s congressional delegation has come together to send multiple letters to the President in support of disaster relief. In response, President Biden cut through red tape to approve our requests at an accelerated pace, providing the rapid support we need to recover.
“I am especially grateful for the work of DHS Secretary Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Criswell, who visited Kentucky yesterday to survey damage and help relief efforts.
“FEMA has already sent two incident management teams, an urban search and rescue team, and an Army Corp temporary power team.
“They have turned Kentucky’s Fort Campbell into a staging ground for vital relief and supplies.
“I could not be more thankful for their swift and decisive response to this crisis.
“Even in the face of such tragedy, we can be confident that Kentucky will bounce back.
“We are strong, and we are united.
“We will come back bigger and better than ever before.”