Producers are working to recover from dozens of tornadoes that tore through six different states over the weekend, including one giant storm with winds topping 200 miles-per-hour that ripped apart grain bins, destroyed poultry barns and killed at least 64 people across nine Kentucky counties.
Parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee were hit by tornadoes, but Kentucky saw some of the most devastation as a large storm, ranked an EF3 or greater by the National Weather Service, traveled over 200 miles in the state and tore up several of the towns it passed through.
The tornado — with winds reaching up to 206 miles per hour at its peak — entered Western Kentucky not long before 9 p.m. Friday evening. After moving into the state, it traveled through the town of Cayce and, 20 minutes later, tore through Mayfield, ripping through two of Pilgrim's hatcheries, the town's Hutson John Deere dealership and buildings and grain bins at the Mayfield Grain Company, according to Ryan Quarles, the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture.
In a Facebook post, Quarles said the storm also damaged the UK Princeton Research Farm, the Graves County Food Bank, close to 15 chicken barns, and grain systems from Mayfield to Bowling Green.
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"What we're looking at is a massive cleanup effort," Quarles told the Cromwell Ag Radio Network's Jeff Nalley Sunday. "My staff has been working with livestock producers in particular to deal with animal safety, animal health, and animal disposal."
Quarles said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture was working with the USDA to assist producers with depopulation of their herds and flocks. He said he knows of one dairy that has been forced to depopulate some of its cattle and is now trying to save what animals it can.
Additionally, the food pantry in Graves County, Kentucky, was completely wiped out. Quarles said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is working with FEMA, the USDA and the governor's office to get food to the affected area and will be compiling a county-by-county list of comprehensive needs over the next couple of weeks.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those aiding with the recover effort," Quarles told Nalley. "We will get through this with agriculture, but we want to make sure that we support the recovery effort right now for those who are unaccounted for."
This story will be updated as more information is obtained.
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