FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - Local and state emergency officials urge citizens to use extreme caution following Friday's severe storms and tornadoes that caused widespread damage, injuries and loss of life.
The Kentucky Department of Public Health reports 20 fatalities from the storms, and more than 300 people have been reported injured.
After visiting some of the worst impacted areas on Saturday, Gov. Steve Beshear warned Kentuckians to heed warnings from emergency managers to stay off the roads and away from affected communities.
"Unfortunately, after a disaster like the one we have experienced, people take to the road for one of two reasons: to offer unsolicited help, or to tour the damage. That's not helpful to our emergency responders," said Gov. Beshear.
"Our emergency responders and National Guard troops need immediate and unfettered access to our roads, and they can't effectively continue that work if they're fighting traffic."
People who want to offer assistance to affected communities should contact their local Red Cross chapter for information.
Emergency managers strongly discourage people from traveling to these communities to offer help.
Interested parties wanting to make donations should go to http://kyem.ky.gov/recovery/Pages/VolunteerCoordination.aspx for directions and list of registered charities and affiliates.
- Residents should be wary of using alternate heat and power sources, some of which emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.
- Never run a generator indoors; never use a charcoal grill indoors.
- Be sure to follow manufacturers' safety instructions when using alternate heat sources such as kerosene heaters.
- Residents beginning clean-up work should exercise great caution when entering damaged buildings.
- Never re-enter until the structure has been inspected and deemed safe by a qualified person.
- Be sure electric and gas have been shut off or disconnected.
- These and other safety tips on returning to your damaged home can be found at http://www.fema.gov/rebuild/recover/return.shtm.
Friends or family who have been unable to locate loved ones since Friday's storms are encouraged to register the missing person's information on the Kentucky Emergency Management website at http://kyem.ky.gov/missingperson/Pages/default.aspx.
Several shelters have opened by the Red Cross to accommodate citizens displaced by the storm:
Morgan Central Elementary School
3201 Highway 460 West Liberty, KY
Grant County High School
715 Warsaw Rd.
Dry Ridge, KY
Morgan Community Center
147 Victory Ave.