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Storm-hit Kentucky Governor's Family ties are deep

DAWSON SPRINGS (Ky.) -- After the devastating storm, Andy Beshear, governor of the hardest-hit state, took a moment to help his fellow Kentuckians.

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Storm-hit Kentucky Governor's Family ties are deep

He called Jenny in Dawson Springs repeatedly to find his cousin.

At Monday's news conference, Beshear, the Democratic governor of the state, stated that there was a happy ending. "It took me eight hour to reach her, just by calling over and over.

His extended family was also among Kentuckians who were grieving the loss from the storms. According to the governor, he is related to an uncle who was married and who lost two of his cousins in Muhlenberg County.

This may explain why Beshear has alternated between statements of determination (declaring that Kentuckians have the strength to rebuild) and emotions. Although he has shared his grief with all the stricken towns, Dawson Springs was his father's hometown, and a place that he had visited many times in his life, Beshear said that Dawson Springs is something he would go to and sit on his grandparents' front porch.

Beshear has been leading the state's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic since his first term. He was heavily scrutinized amid early concerns about the storm-related death toll at Mayfield's candle factory. Beshear is well-known for his repeated vows that "we will get through it together", first in fighting coronavirus, then in responding to storms. He has been to the region several times and held many news conferences, which put him in the national spotlight.

Dawson Springs is part of a small-political dynasty within the Bluegrass State. Beshear is the son of a former two-term governor. Steve Beshear grew up in the close-knit western Kentucky community. A local leader estimates that at least 60% of the town's nearly 3,000 residents are "beyond repair."

Steve Beshear stated that it was a personal tragedy in a telephone interview. It's a charming small-town community. It was a great place to grow up because everyone knew everybody and everybody looked out for each other. Parents knew if you did anything wrong before you arrived home.

Many people were killed in the storms, which also crippled many towns across western Kentucky. Dawson Springs saw homes and businesses destroyed as it became clear that recovery would take many years.

Darryl Kelley was delivering water and food around the town. "For most part, it's possible to go three blocks and it all looks like teethpicks." "Many people are grateful they're alive."

Some deliveries brought him to homes that were reduced to rubble. In the hope of salvaging their possessions, residents searched through the wreckage.

He said, "It's so heartbreaking." "I'm with them."

One family was struck by an unimaginable tragedy when a baby girl died.

As the storm approached, Douglas Koon, Jackie Koon and their three children were huddled together in Dawson Springs' bathroom with his mother-in law. The tornado ripped through the house, throwing the family around, and tossing the bathtub that was protecting two of their sons in the air. Oaklynn, Oaklynn's 2-month-old daughter, was placed in a car seat by the couple to protect her. She appeared to be fine Saturday.

On Sunday, the baby began to have seizures. Doctors noticed that her brain was bleeding. Koon posted on Facebook that they believed she suffered a stroke.

The family announced that Oaklynn was dead on Monday morning. Koon sent a text message to The Associated Press Monday in which he said he was having trouble "processing everything that I'm going though."

The town suffered extensive destruction. Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. was the county's top official. He stated that "hundreds of" homes in Dawson Springs had been destroyed. He said that between 60% and 75% of Hopkins County's town were "beyond repair".

He said, "It looks as if a bomb went off." It's just been completely destroyed in certain areas.

Andy Beshear described how the grim view from his front porch, which he visited as a child with his grandparents, was like a horror movie. Although the house where his father grew up was still intact, it was clear to see the devastation.

The governor stated, "One block up and left/right is just gone. Just flattened."

Steve Beshear left Dawson Springs many decades ago. He attended the University of Kentucky, and then went on to build a successful career in politics and law. His election in 2007 as governor was followed by his reelection in 2014. His memories of Dawson Springs are still cherished. He rattled off street names that were directly affected by the storm.

He recalled his visits home, the generations bonding and even the rides his children took on his father's tractor.

Beshear stated, "I think Andy's fondest memory is riding down the street in that tractor in granddad’s lap." "We had great times as kids."

Dawson Springs' Beshear family name is still prominent because it's the name of the funeral home which has been in the family for generations. According to Steve Beshear's research, it was a combination furniture and funeral home that was established in 1909. It was started by the ex-governor's great uncle. Jenny Beshear Sewell is the current owner and president of the funeral home. She was the cousin that the governor tried reaching after the storm.

Andy Beshear watched the devastation reports from the storms and realized Dawson Springs was badly affected. He was the leader of the response and took the time to make calls that would go on for hours as he searched for his cousin.

He said, "Got to meet her later that night because the moment it was safely to fly we went first to Mayfield then to Dawson." "It was my pleasure to give her a hug."

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