Updated: Devastating tornadoes hit Midwest and South; Industry reacts

A series of tornadoes struck the Midwest and South on Friday. There were more than a dozen confirmed deaths in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee, but those numbers were expected to rise, according to the Associated Press.

In Bowling Green, KY, the New York Times reported that the Cardinal Hotel, “a throwback single-story motel [was]demolished. An iconic red concrete cardinal statue in front of the motel was untouched, standing sentinel now over piles of wood, roof sheeting and pink insulation.”

As the areas are assessing the damage, AAHOA President/CEO Ken Greene issued the following statement:

“America’s hotel owners are devastated and shocked over the outbreak of at least 30 tornadoes that tore through at least six states on Friday night and early Saturday morning. In what is being called the most horrific tornado event in Kentucky’s history, more than 100 lives are expected lost, which could be the deadliest in the state’s history.

“All of us are thinking of the families who have lost loved ones, their homes, their businesses and for the countless souls who remain unaccounted for. We thank our first responders, the National Guard, citizens of Kentucky and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear for their bravery and leadership over the past several days and for their commitment to save as many lives as possible.”

“AAHOA encourages hoteliers who would like to get involved in relief efforts to donate to the new statewide relief fund, Team Western Kentucky Relief Fund, which was recently announced by Gov. Beshear to help Kentucky tornado victims.

“AAHOA members in the region are also encouraged to provide rooms to displaced families and first responders who are currently assessing the damage and searching for survivors. More opportunities to get involved and help the Commonwealth will be announced in the coming days after the initial search and rescue efforts can be completed.

“AAHOA is currently working alongside our state hotel and lodging association partners on disaster relief and other resources for AAHOA Members who have been impacted by this weekend’s horrific events.”

A spokesperson for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) offered this statement: “We at the American Hotel & Lodging Association grieve for all those affected by the devastating loss of life and property in Kentucky. We are coordinating with our colleagues at the Kentucky Travel Industry Association regarding how the hotel industry can support the relief efforts.”

Hotel Business will update this story as more information becomes available.