Officials in Graves County are assessing the damage from a tornado that touched down north of Mayfield Tuesday. In a media conference Wednesday, National Weather Service Meteorologist Rick Shanklin says initial reports indicate the tornado peaked at the low end of EF3 on the sale, with 140 miles per hour winds.
He says it was a wide tornado, measured close to 400 yards making it particularly strong. “We’ve had cars that have been lofted at Bennett Motors and elsewhere. Obviously, some buildings that have been destroyed. Mobile homes - there’s one in particular that has the undercarriage wrapped around a tree," Shanklin says.
Shanklin says the tornado was the most intense his office had seen since the Brookport, Illinois tornado in November 2013, which killed three people.
Sheriff Dewayne Redmon estimates at least 3 million dollars worth of damage to homes and businesses. Approximately 30 homes and businesses were destroyed or severely damaged. Nine or ten families have been displaced.
Recalling the first moments of the tornado, Redmon says he received the first call at 2:45 p.m. The tornado touched the ground near KY 80 and Sullivan Road, five miles west of Mayfield. Sirens were initiated and emergency personnel were dispatched to the area. He says the tornado happened so suddenly and was so loud that it may have been difficult for some to hear the siren.
He praised the first responders, Kentucky State Police dispatchers and regional fire and police departments for aiding service. He warned people to not go out and look at the damage as it impairs electrical and police crew operations and urged people to not take advantage of someone displaced by stealing from their property.
Redmon says he's grateful for no serious injuries or loss of life. “Those of us that live in Graves County and Mayfield are very fortunate to have the people that we have here in a time of need that always rally around us and around the community and pools the community together to make sure that everybody has the efforts that they need and the supplies that they need."
Redmon says he's especially thankful for the tornado appearing to shift before reaching a multi-school campus with approximately 2,400 students. "If you go to church this Sunday and you've got kids that went to those elementary schools you better get on your knees and pray because God saved your kids."
Emergency Management Director Davant Ramage said his office is working to help the people displaced put their lives back together. “Our main objective at this point is to see how much damage we have and what we need to do to get it fixed and what we need to do to start getting the people affected - their lives as back to normal as we can.”
He added that the situation probably meets the need for federal aid, but he won’t know those figures until the damage assessment is complete later this week or next week.
Mayfield Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell said while she was heartbroken over the loss of homes and businesses, it was a miracle to have so few injured and no deaths reported. She said this was hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one she'd never forget.
Eight patients were treated at the Jackson Purchase Medical Center. Hospital CEO Dave Anderson said most of the injuries were minor. One patient had a fractured femur and another suffered a concussion. All of the patients are in stable condition and most have been released.
Chad Lamb of His House Ministries says donations should be delivered to the Julian Carroll Expo Building on the Mayfield Fair Grounds. His House Ministries is collecting monetary donations and coordinating community relief efforts.
How to Help:
For those who want to help or need help, call 270-247-7772 ask for Pastor Tony Adams, or visit this website. Needs include bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, furniture, diapers, wipes, hygiene supplies, and more. Make monetary donations out to the Mayfield Tornado Relief Fund, c/o His House Ministries, 1250 State Route 303 Mayfield, KY 42066