FRANKFORT, Ky. — The death toll from tornadoes in Western Kentucky this month has climbed to 77.
Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday an infant died last week from injuries sustained from the tornado in Graves County.
During a press conference, Beshear also announced another county, Marion County, has been added to the emergency declaration, meaning residents there are now eligible for help from FEMA.
“The level of trauma is hard to describe with these families,” Beshear said. “Many of them were already struggling with the neighborhoods that were hit, and when you don’t have much and a tornado takes what you have, it can be even harder.”
Beshear said the state has collected $30 million through its tornado relief fund and has covered the costs for 39 funerals so far.
“Rebuilding these homes and structures and lives is going to take years,” he said. “And we’ve got to make sure that when support is needed down the road that we have it, it’s there and we can deploy it quickly to help these families.”
First lady Britainy Beshear said the Western Kentucky Toy Drive was a success and will provide several families with presents for birthdays as well.
“Because of your generosity, we got the best Christmas gift possible,” she said. “Knowing that you brought peace and hope to our children going through the most pain, you helped Santa so he could make their holiday special, even if Christmas looked different for them this year.”
This is all happening as the omicron variant is causing case numbers to rise nationally, although Beshear said hospitals in Kentucky aren’t being pushed to their limits, at least not yet.
Beshear and other governors spoke with President Joe Biden Monday about the virus and federal help.
“What a lot of people are asking for right now is help that we got during the delta surge. They’re in places they need to be right now,” Beshear said of federal resources. “We’re going to try to hold off on asking for additional help until it’s absolutely necessary with how hard other places are getting slammed. They did that for us; we’re going to do that for them.”
While cases and hospitalization numbers have remained relatively consistent the last few weeks, Kentucky’s positivity rate jumped from 9.6% to 11.8% over the holiday weekend.