Survivor of the tornado roller: “Everything crashed down on us”

They came in the night and swept across the country with tremendous force: tornadoes brought chaos, death and destruction in six US states. In Kentucky, the hardest-hit state, a candle factory collapsed with up to 110 workers. A nursing home in Arkansas was also destroyed by the storm. In Ilinois, part of the Amazon warehouse was torn away and employees were buried.

The destroyed factory in Mayfield, KentuckyPhoto: Brett Carlsen / AFP

The rescue work is on – but how many are still injured under the rubble?

The Mayfield Fire Brigade, Jeremy Creason, reported on the dramatic rescue operation in the candle factory: “Sometimes we had to crawl over the dead to get to the survivors.”

Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear spoke of a tragedy. In the candle factory in Mayfield alone, up to 70, if not 100, deaths should be expected. As of Saturday afternoon (local time), 22 dead were confirmed. “I pray that there can be another rescue operation,” said the politician. Because the emergency services also put their lives in danger to rescue buried victims from the rubble.

Mayfield residents rescue their buried dog from the rubble of a house

Mayfield residents rescue their buried dog from the rubble of a housePhoto: Mark Humphrey / AP

“That was probably the most devastating tornado in the history of our state. Everything is gone. Houses, shops, government buildings – just go away. Parts of industrial plants, roofs are in trees. It’s hard to imagine that that’s even possible, ”said Beshear.

Beshear asked US President Joe Biden for assistance. “Kentucky needs federal aid to respond to this event,” said a letter to Biden published by the governor on Saturday. Countless power outages have been reported. 17 of the 120 counties in the state were affected by the disaster. Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky and activated the National Guard to assist affected communities.

That wreckage is all that remains of a Mayfield auto repair shop

That wreckage is all that remains of a Mayfield auto repair shopPhoto: JOHN AMIS / AFP

Among the missing in the candle factory is the mother of four Janine Denise Johnson Williams (50), whose family members kept watch on Saturday at the site of the accident.

“It’s Christmas time and she works at a place that makes candles for gifts,” said her brother Darryl Williams. “To give up the gift of life to give a gift. We haven’t heard anything and I don’t suspect anything. But I expect the worst. ”

“Everything crashed down on us”

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, an employee of the factory, was trapped under 1.5 meter high rubble for at least two hours before rescuers managed to free her. In an interview with NBC’s Today, she said it was the most terrifying experience she had ever been through.

Just before the tornado hit, the lights of the building flickered. She felt a gust of wind, followed by a deafening bang. “Everything crashed down on us,” reported the survivor. People started screaming and she heard other workers praying.

According to the authorities on Saturday afternoon, there are now 30 fatalities in five states, including four people in Tennessee, two in Arkansas in a destroyed nursing home, one in Missouri and one person who died in an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.

More than 30 tornadoes swept across the country

The disaster began around 10:30 p.m. (local time) when more than 30 tornadoes moved from Arkansas in the south to the northeast, as far as Kentucky and Illinois. In some cases, they achieved record speeds of up to 320 kilometers per hour. Possibly one of those CNN-Meteorologist, it could have been a single, long-drawn mega-tornado.

At the time of the accident, there was already a tornado warning. Two deaths have been reported in the state of Arkansas.

The town hall and the police station in Mayfield were also damaged

The town hall and the police station in Mayfield were also damagedPhoto: Brett Carlsen / AFP

Survivors reported

Kyana Parsons-Perez works in the candle factory in Mayfield and reports on the accident in a TODAY interview. She waited for help under a 1.50 meter high mountain of rubble: “That was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, I thought I couldn’t do it.”

When the tornado swept over the building, the lights would have flickered. Then – a strong gust of wind, a feeling of pressure in the ear – and then BOOM! “Suddenly the ceiling came down!”

People screamed in panic that many of the Hispanic workers had started praying in Spanish.

She particularly praised the work of prisoners who had served in the factory: “They could have run away, but they helped us, helped clear rubble.” Rescue operations with heavy equipment are still ongoing.

Shattered by the force of the tornado: a building in Mayfield

Shattered by the force of the tornado: A building in Mayfield Photo: JOHN AMIS / AFP

Concern for Amazon employees

Meanwhile, the emergency services in Illinois worried about the fate of around a hundred employees of an Amazon warehouse who were trapped in the building, which was partially destroyed by a tornado. They were on the night shift that processed Christmas orders.

The damaged Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois

The damaged Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois Photo: Michael B. Thomas / AFP

The roof of the building partially collapsed. However, it will be days before the full extent of the devastation and the number of victims become known.

The extent of the destruction at the Amazon warehouse became apparent in daylight

The extent of the destruction at the Amazon warehouse became apparent in daylight Photo: LAWRENCE BRYANT / REUTERS


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