Jewish communities in Kentucky have begun donating food and other necessities to victims of the tornadoes, Rabbi David Ariel-Joel told KAN on Sunday.
At least 100 people are feared dead in Kentucky after a swarm of tornadoes tore a 300 km. path through the US Midwest and South, demolishing homes, leveling businesses, and setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble.
“Entire towns the size of tens of thousands of inhabitants are completely destroyed, said Ariel-Joel, of the Reform movement in Louisville. “It is a terrible disaster.”
Jewish communities in Kentucky remained largely unaffected, but have started collecting food, clothes and other essentials to donate to families of the victims.
Ariel-Joel spoke of a Jewish family in his community who was caught in the midst of the catastrophe during a visit to Mayfield, which has been affected the most by the disaster.
“A family from one of our kindergartens was visiting Mayfield, and the mother told me she was sure they were going to die as she shielded her son for cover,” the rabbi said.
Some 40 workers were rescued at the candle factory in Mayfield, which had about 110 people inside when it was reduced to a pile of rubble.
In addition, posts on social media captured brick buildings in downtown Mayfield flattened, including the fire station, with parked cars nearly buried under debris.
Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason said the candle factory was diminished to a “pile of bent metal and steel and machinery,” and that responders had to at times “crawl over casualties to get to live victims.”
Gov. Andy Beshear said the series of tornadoes was the most destructive in the state’s history.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky on Saturday after he said the disaster was likely one of the largest tornado outbreaks in US history.
Reuters contributed to this report.