11 dead after EF-3 tornado hits Bowling Green

Hundreds of homes damaged in Bowling Green tornado.
Hundreds of homes damaged in Bowling Green tornado.(WBKO)
Updated: Dec. 11, 2021 at 7:35 AM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO/WSMV) - The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down in Bowling Green, KY, causing major damage in the area and killing at least 11 people.

NWS said the tornado was an EF-3 based on damage and wind likely reached 150mph. Crews are still evaluating the damage.

Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby told WBKO that there are 11 fatality cases at this time following the tornado.

Western Kentucky University sent a letter out to its student body Saturday morning. The NBC station in Bowling Green confirmed that a relative of a WKU student died due to the storms.

School president Timothy Caboni said that while the school kept every student on campus safe from the storms, a young man died in the storms in an off-campus residence.

The Bowling Green area saw significant damage after an EF-3 tornado moved through the area in the early morning hours.

“It hits no matter where it happens, but definitely when it’s your own community and we were not expecting it,” Bowling Green Fire PIO Katie Mckee said. “This type of devastation, we were not expecting it. It’s hard to see all these families losing everything within a matter of seconds.”

South Warren High School set up shelter for anyone in the area. They should be opening up that facility within the next hour.

According to Western Kentucky University, emergency crews are assessing significant storm damage and the university is in contact with all residential staff.

Bowling Green Police say all agencies in the city and county are responding to damage at this time.

“I was at home when it all started and obviously we were up because the storm was coming through where I live,” Bowling Green Police Department PIO Ronnie Ward said. “We turned on the police radio and started listening to what kind of damage and figured out we needed to come on into work. It didn’t take very long for us to learn where all the worst damage was.”

Police say several warehouses at the Industrial Park are “completely collapsed.” Power is out at the park which makes it difficult to see anything at this time.

“Right now everybody’s kind of in operation work mode. We’re trying to go through the recovery process, the search and rescue process so we have a job to do,” Ward said. “You have to put all your feelings and emotions aside which is sort of unfortunate. We’re just trying to get through this and serve our community the best we can.”

LIVE at the Bowling Green Police Department Press Conference with Governor Andy Beshear.

Posted by The Bowling Green Police Department on Saturday, December 11, 2021

According to Bowling Green Police, they are currently working numerous reports of building collapses, gas leaks, and extractions in the city due to the tornado and severe weather. All city crews are working to clear the debris in the roadway. WKU will NOT hold commencement ceremonies Saturday, December 11. Officials will work to reschedule graduation.

14,000 BGMU customers were out of power in the city.

The Medical Center at Bowling Green is currently experiencing a telephone outage. Patients are safe and EMS is responding to emergency calls.

“You know, people just need a word of comfort. You can look up the street and see people walking up the street and they’re crying because that could be there house,” Ward said. “They have nothing. It’s hard to comfort folks like that, especially in the first hour.”

Jordan Smith, a resident who lives on Hillridge Court said apartments there are completely destroyed.

“A ton of people are going around trying to help others. I live here. My place is destroyed. I cannot find my car,” said Smith.

WBKO Sports Reporter Mohammad Ahmad experienced significant damage to his own apartment near Russellville Road.

Officials are warning the public to NOT drive around to assess the damage. Power lines are down and dangerous, it’s raining, it is extremely dark out there, and people do not need to be getting in the way of the emergency crews who are out doing their jobs. Please stay inside and stay safe.

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