DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WEHT) Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear toured the damage across western Kentucky, including in Dawson Springs, one of the hardest hit towns. 

Dawson Springs residents are starting to get a better sense of the damage that was caused by yesterday’s tornado. This community here in Hopkins County was one of several that saw severe damage from the tornado.

“I worked the Madisonville tornado, and I’ve worked several other tornadoes. This is the worst,” said Chris Smiley, Mayor of Dawson Springs.

Saturday was a day of cleaning, rebuilding and checking on family and friends, after a night of destruction.

“One in particular, got injured pretty badly. Her whole trailer was picked up off the foundation, and she’s currently in the hospital now,” said Stephanie Shaw of Dawson Springs.

“I spent about 8 hours this morning trying to make sure my cousin who lives here was OK along with her family,” added Gov. Beshear.

He declared a state of emergency last night. Gov. Beshear also said FEMA is sending teams to hard hit areas, and the Kentucky National Guard was activated. They will help with clean up and recovery and search and rescue efforts in Hopkins and at least five other Kentucky counties.

“One of the concerns that they mayor shared in particular is really being able to touch base with a lot of the folks that are out of contact, that we don’t have direct communication with,” said Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton of the Kentucky National Guard.

Governor Beshear also says deaths in Hopkins County from the tornado could reach double digits. President Biden approved their federal emergency declaration request on Saturday. The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Recovery Fund was also announced to help tornado victims.

People who live and work in Dawson Springs hope the tornado didn’t take away from what they say is a special place.

“We don’t want anyone to just pack up and move away. We just want people to stay here. This is still a great community,” said Brad Shuck, who is a pastor at a Dawson Springs church that was damaged Friday night.

Dawson Springs and Hopkins County officials are asking everyone that either does not live here or that does not have business here to stay away from the town so that they do not impede the clean up and recovery process.

(This story was originally published on December 11, 2021)