Kentucky: Mayfield Residents in Dire Straits as Biden Set to Visit Tornado-Ravaged State
The weather appears to be merciless to Mayfield, a small town in Kentucky that was ravaged by a tornado last week. After practically being wiped out by the twister, it now faces temperatures dropping below freezing amid a lack of heat and electricity.
As raging weekend storms left nothing but ruins from Mayfield residents' homes, they now have nothing left to do but light fires, burning wood and debris in order to stay warm in the chilly weather.
Tornadoes have killed at least 74 people across the state, with the rescue and recovery efforts being complicated by the level of destruction. The town of Mayfield, once a cosy small community of some 10,000 people, is now "gone", according to Mayor Kathy Stewart O'Nan, and the victims of the tornado have to survive the freezing weather without heat and electricity.
"Our infrastructure is so damaged. We have no running water", O'Nan told CBS Morning. "Our wastewater management was lost, and there's no natural gas to the city. So we have nothing to rely on there. So that is purely survival at this point for so many of our people".
It is estimated by local authorities that more than 10,000 homes and businesses in Mayfield have no water, with another 17,000 having been placed under boil-water advisories.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, assessing the devastating impact of the deadly tornadoes on the state, said that it could take days to roll out final estimations of the damage. Rescue efforts are ongoing as the rattled Bluegrass State expects US President Joe Biden to pay a visit and assess the destruction himself.
Aside from Mayfield, Biden is set to visit Dawson Springs, another city that the tornadoes ripped through.
"[President Biden] has empathy for everything that they [the tornadoes' victims] are going through", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about Biden's upcoming trip to the ravaged region. "And the message he's going to send to them directly and clearly tomorrow [on Wednesday] is: We're here to help, we want to rebuild, we are going to stand by your side, and we're going to help your leaders do exactly that".
Earlier, the Biden administration approved a major disaster declaration for Kentucky, paving the way for federal funds to be poured into the rescue and recovery efforts. Aside from Kentucky, the deadly storms also hit Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri, claiming at least 88 lives.