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'We need your prayers, we need your help': Tornado kills dozens, leaves path of devastating destruction in Western Kentucky

A "Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund" is set up to help direct money from donations to the people who need it most.

MAYFIELD, Ky. — After a historic quad-state weather system rolled through much of Western Kentucky Friday night, multiple tornadoes left widespread damage and many lives were lost.

The hardest-hit place was in Graves County, where Governor Andy Beshear said that the city of Mayfield had been "devastated."

"The level of devastation is unlike anything I've ever seen," Beshear said in a noon press conference. "This will be, I believe, the deadliest tornado system to have ever run through Kentucky."

Beshear predicted there would be around 50 deaths, however, he is now "certain" that more than 70 Kentuckians will have lost their life due to the storm.

"It may end up exceeding 100 before the day is done," he said. 

How to help Western Kentucky families

Kentucky State Trooper Sarah Burgess said that there is significant damage reported, including a collapsed roof at a candle factory that had an estimated 110 people inside when the storm hit around 9:30 p.m. central time.

Beshear said the roof collapse caused "mass casualties."

"We're gonna lose a lot of lives in that facility," Beshear said after coming back from seeing the factory in person. "It's a very dire situation at this point."

He said the building has been flattened and cars from the parking lot are on top of it, along with huge metal drums, some leaking corrosive chemicals.

"This is probably the toughest day of my life," Graves County Executive Judge Jesse Perry tearfully told the media. "We need your prayers, we need your help."

Burgess said the city had been hit hard with widespread damage including structure collapses and blocked roadways.

"Numerous homes have collapsed," she said. "There's been damage to nursing homes, damage to the court square, in fact. The courthouse here in Graves County has been damaged."

Beshear declared a state of emergency early Saturday. 

Individuals across the Bluegrass have come to help, with many outside of the state wondering how they can help support Graves County.

A "Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund" is set up to help direct money from donations to the people who need it most.

In his morning brief, he said there were reportedly four tornadoes that hit multiple counties in Western Kentucky, with the primary tornado possibly breaking historic records.

"The primary tornado was on the ground continuously for over 200 miles in our state," he said in a Saturday morning briefing. "Something we have never seen before."

Beshear said 181 Kentucky National Guardsmen have been deployed to communities across the state for search and extraction and debris clearance efforts. 

This story will be updated as we learn more information.

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