Tornado Survivors Describe Destruction

Rescuers, including inmates, search for survivors as families await word
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2021 5:50 PM CST
Survivor Describes 'a Roaring Train'
People salvage items from a Guatemalan grocery store Saturday in Mayfield.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Crews were digging through rubble Saturday for survivors after powerful storms and tornadoes tore through six states. The death toll was rising, the New York Times reports. Gov. Andy Beshear said that at least 70 people were killed in Kentucky and that the final count could top 100. In Mayfield, 110 workers were inside a candle factory when it was struck by a tornado Friday evening. About 40 people were rescued, and Beshear said probably dozens did not survive. The last person found alive was pulled from the building at 3:30am Saturday. Another 12, including children, were killed in Kentucky's Warren County. Four people were reported to have been killed in Tennessee, two in Arkansas, and six when the roof and part of a wall collapsed at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois. Survivors talked about what they went through:

  • The sound: "It was like a roaring train," an employee said about when a tornado struck the Monette Manor nursing home in Monette, Arkansas, destroying it. "I didn't think it would ever end."
  • A plea: With his voice breaking, a top county official said local officials were "in the trenches" searching for victims in Monette. "We need your prayers," he said. "We need your help."
  • The workers: "It's Christmastime and she works at a place that's making candles for gifts," said the brother of an employee at the Mayfield factory, per the AP. "To give up the gift of life to make a gift." He hasn't heard from his sister and expects "the worst."
  • The helpers: Inmates from the Graves County Jail were helping rescue efforts at the factory. "They could have used that moment to try to run away or anything, but they did not," said an employee who was trapped under the rubble for two hours or more. "They were there, helping us."
  • Lost history: "It's all gone," said a banker involved in preserving Mayfield's court square, per CNN. "Every historical building we have is on the ground, churches that have been around for hundreds of years."
  • Federal help: President Biden directed federal resources to the places affected. "The federal government will do everything, everything it can possibly do to help," Biden said.
  • The recovery: "We're strong, we'll work together," said a judge who lives outside Mayfield, "but it's going to be a long time."
(More tornadoes stories.)

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