LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Following a weekend of atypical Christmas celebrations, residents in Western Kentucky areas ravaged by tornadoes nearly two weeks ago try to pick up the pieces of their lives.
A record 77 deaths have been reported so far in Kentucky from tornadoes that plowed through the commonwealth late Dec. 10 and into the early hours of Dec. 11. More than 1,000 properties were destroyed.
Many people lost their homes, and many have lost jobs. Relief organizations have invaded the state in an effort to provide assistance.
Let’s see what we have learned:
What was the number of tornadoes that struck Kentucky?
National Weather Service surveyors are still working to determine how many tornadoes touched down as part of the storm system that brought devastation across the western portion of the state.
But multiple tornadoes have been confirmed — including the “long-track” twister that tore through Mayfield on a path from Fulton County to Muhlenberg County and another that hit the Bowling Green area.
According to some estimates, the tornado with the long track was present on ground for 200 miles. It formed part of a storm-system that extended from Arkansas through Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois.
The National Weather Service reported three additional EF-1 tornadoes on Dec. 20: in Madison County near Richmond, Kentucky; in Hardin County in Kentucky; and near Kirksville in Kentucky.
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Which people were killed in the Kentucky tornadoes.
At least 77 people died in the tornadoes in Kentucky, breaking a state record set in 1890 for storm-related deaths.
Of those deaths, 23 came from Graves County, where Mayfield is located. The storm ravaged the Mayfield Consumer Products candle plant, where nine people were killed.
Meanwhile, the Hopkins County coroner confirmed 14 deaths tied to the storm, and the Warren County coroner and police confirmed 17 deaths in the county from the storm, including a family of seven.
These are THE NAMES WE KNOW.Kentucky tornado death count reaches 77 victims.
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How did Kentucky’s tornado victims experience Christmas?
In Mayfield, First Christian Church and First Presbyterian Church — which once stood on opposite sides of one of the town’s main thoroughfares — joined together to host a candlelight Christmas Eve service attended by more than 100 people on a warm and breezy Friday night.
After a tornado leveled much of downtown Dec. 10, the service — which took place in a parking lot between the remnants of the two buildings — doubled as a farewell to their once-stately sanctuaries.
Meanwhile, in Bremen, Kentucky, Santa paid a visit as Art ‘Santa Art’ Hoffman loaded up his Prius sleigh with toys and trinkets, donned the bright red overalls he reserves for warm days and made the two-hour trek from Louisville to the tiny town in Muhlenberg County.
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How can I help Kentucky victims?
The state’s Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which has raised more than $20 million, will help families who lost loved ones pay for funerals and help uninsured people who lost their homes rebuild.
Other fundraisers are available, as well as blood drives, and, since this is Kentucky, an auction of Kentucky bourbon.
KENTUCKY TORNADO VICTIMS – HOW TO HELPFIRE:Help us to provide relief supplies, blood drives and other assistance
Contributing: Mary Ramsey and Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal
Follow Ben Tobin via Twitter @Ben__Tobin.