By now you’ve heard stories and seen photos about the tornadoes that gouged their way across a number of states on Friday night and Saturday.
Here’s a quick summary of the sorts of stories we were faced with.
Among the most significant damage: Tornadoes or strong winds collapsed an occupied candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon warehouse in western Illinois, and a nursing home in Arkansas, killing people in each community and leaving responders scrambling to rescue others.
More than 30 tornadoes have been reported in at least six states, including Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. A stretch of more than 250 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky might have been hit by one violent, long-track twister, CNN meteorologists say.
“I’m pretty sure that number (killed in Kentucky) is north of 70 … it may, in fact exceed 100 before the day is done,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said late Saturday morning. “The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen.” —CNN
But in the reporting of events like this, you have to factor in the sort of uncertainties that lead to confusion. The military equivalent is ‘fog of war’.
There is often duplication of reports that inflate numbers, or communications breakdowns, or the situation at first glance looks better or worse than the supporting facts may later turn out to show.
As such, the early reports of one of these sites may have painted a bleaker picture than what actually occurred. Specifically, we’re referring to the candle factory that was destroyed in the storm.
New satellite imagery shows before and after of the Mayfield candle factory that was destroyed from last nights tornado. Several people were trapped in the factory after the tornado hit Mayfield, Kentucky. https://t.co/3D7RH4qq4F
— Breaking Weather by AccuWeather (@breakingweather) December 11, 2021
The building, obviously, is still a total loss. But the human toll may not be anywhere near as steep as it had first seemed.
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear estimated the death toll at 80 and said it was certain to rise above 100, but that was based on suspicion that scores were killed when a candle factory was destroyed in the small city of Mayfield.
Up to 70 people at the factory had been believed dead, but that number could be revised down to 16 or fewer, a company spokesman said, raising the possibility the governor’s death toll estimate could come down significantly.
Among the 110 people who were at the factory, eight have been confirmed dead and eight were missing, said Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products.
“There were some early reports that as many as 70 could be dead in the factory. One is too many, but we thank God that the number is turning out to be far, far fewer,” Ferguson told Reuters, adding that rescue teams were still searching for the eight who remained unaccounted for. — Reuters
While it is true that words cannot express the loss of those 8 or 16 families, the fact that we are looking at 8 or 16 instead of 70 is nothing short of miraculous to the families of those who got to see their loved ones come home again safely.
Tragedy or no, we can still see and be grateful for the Hand of God in the midst of sorrow.
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