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'Absolutely devastating': Kentucky governor details tornado aftermath

Beshear said that in Kentucky, a candle factory collapsed and one town was almost "decimated."
/ Source: TODAY

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear spoke emotionally about the state's death toll after multiple tornadoes ripped across the Midwest and South Friday night.

Beshear appeared on Weekend TODAY to discuss the response efforts currently underway.

"We know our death toll is going to exceed 50, probably going to be closer to 70 to 100," said Beshear. "And those are children of God, irreplaceable in their community so a real tough morning in Kentucky."

Beshear said the storm-related deaths appear to be in dozens of counties, including a significant collapse at a Graves County candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky. In an earlier news conference, as reported by the Associated Press, the governor had said about 110 people were inside the facility when the factory collapsed.

"That will be, we believe, the largest site, the largest place of loss," said Beshear. In a follow-up press conference Saturday morning, Beshear estimated that 40 individuals had been rescued from the factory.

The storm system affected several states, including Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Across the South and Midwest, families were trapped in their homes and there were reports of a collapse at a nursing home.

Beshear said that in Kentucky, people knew to expect "strong storms" and "a tornado" but were caught off guard by the ferocity of the storm.

"We've never seen a tornado that touches down through four states, 227-plus miles, and goes through the very middle of multiple towns," said Beshear. "You can be prepared, people can know, and it still be absolutely devastating."

In addition to the factory collapse, Beshear told Weekend TODAY's Peter Alexander and Kristen Welker that he heard reports of families trapped in their homes and a town that was "decimated" by the storm system.

"Morning will show us a whole lot more. At least one of our towns almost totally decimated, but we're strong, we're resilient," Beshear said. "We will grieve, but we will rebuild."

Amid the recovery efforts, Beshear said that he still has not been able to contact some of his family members.

"It's hard," said the governor. "It is incredibly difficult."

The storm system isn't yet over, according to NBC meteorologist Somara Theodore.

"I want you to call any friends and family you have that live in central Tennessee, up into Kentucky, even parts of northern Alabama, and just give them a heads-up," Theodore said on Weekend TODAY. "Five million people are waking up this morning to the threat of possible tornadoes stretching from Kentucky, right on down through Tennessee, in areas like Huntsville, Alabama."

After traveling through the South and Midwest, the storm system is expected to hit the east coast later Saturday with mid Atlantic states under a high wind warning or advisory.