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Transcript: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on "Face the Nation," December 12, 2021

Kentucky governor: Tornado left "devastation like none of us have ever seen before"
Kentucky governor: Tornado left "devastation like none of us have ever seen before" 04:40

The following is a transcript of an interview with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear that aired Sunday, December 12, 2021, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we go now to the governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear. Good morning to you, governor, and our deepest condolences.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR: Thank you. It's a tough morning. It's devastation like none of us have ever seen before. We know- I know that we've lost now more than 80 people, but it's going to exceed 100. But we're digging out. We are tough. We're going to grieve and then we're going to rebuild.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president said you told him this looked like a war zone, but worse. So where are you in the- the search and rescue or search and recovery?

GOV. BESHEAR: Well, the search and rescue continues both at that candle factory, which will be the largest loss of life throughout the city of Mayfield, which is just leveled and- and gone. Half of my dad's hometown, Dawson Springs, doesn't exist anymore where I know our emergency management people are out there going door to door, but there aren't any doors. A lot of this is going through the blocks and the rubble. If you can reach it and- and trying to see if there are people, there dead or alive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before the tornado hit, you said Kentucky was short on nurses. I've read your now short on housing as well. What kind of assistance do you need?

GOV. BESHEAR: Well, what we're doing right now is opening up our state parks and welcoming in any family that needs help. But we're also good people that look out after one another and we opened 11 shelters. There's only six still open because in times of difficulty, we open our doors to family and sometimes even to strangers. It's been amazing to see the outpouring of support from other Kentucky communities and communities around. What we're going to need as we move forward, though, is- is this is- I mean, massive damage rebuilding of entire communities. We're going to have lost thousands of- of- of homes because when this tornado hit, it didn't rip a roof off. I mean, it obliterated houses just totally gone. So, there's going to be a lot of work and Kentuckians need to know that we're going to be with them, and the country is going to be with them, not just today and not just this week, but in the months and even the years to come.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you rebuild, how do you account for what seems to be extraordinarily extreme weather?

GOV. BESHEAR: Well, as of today, just a day after, we're worried about finding other Kentuckians, we're worried about providing shelter for them. We are grieving with so many families and we'll worry about or think about the cause once we have everybody stabilized.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I've read that the youngest fatality was a five-month-old, as you said-

GOV. BESHEAR: Well, I know-

MARGARET BRENNAN: –I'm sorry. Go ahead.

GOV. BESHEAR: I know we've lost a number of kids. I know we lost a three-year-old in Graves County, too. I think we lost maybe a five-year-old in the Muhlenberg County. Death and this- this- this tornado didn't discriminate against anybody in its path, even if they were trying to be safe again, just- just like nothing we've ever seen before.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And I know the country's hearts go out to you. Is there anything that people at home who are listening can do to help the people of Kentucky?

GOV. BESHEAR: Well, we will continue to accept every prayer that we can get. We are hoping for miracles as- as today is really day two of trying to find people. We've also set up a fund specifically connected to the state that is going to go solely to the families in western Kentucky that have been hit. That's the It's going to be fully transparent and make sure that first we're going to help people with funeral expenses. And then we're going to help them rebuild knowing that- that the costs they're going to face are going to be long term. But I want to thank the entire country. You- you have been there with us. We appreciate the love and the support. We are tough people. We're going to get through it and it's not going to be easy. I'm still emotional after a couple of days, just learned that my uncle lost a couple of cousins and Muhlenberg County, so we're going to make it. And we're going to see the other side. We're going to rebuild.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you will, and I know the country will be hoping and pulling for you. And my condolences to your family as well. Thank you very much. 

GOV. BESHEAR: Thank you.

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