Survivor Tells Harrowing Tale After Tornadoes Sweep Through Five States, Killing Dozens
Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas were ravaged by a slew of tornadoes on Friday night and Saturday morning (Dec. 11), killing 64 and causing a yet untold amount of damage. But those who survived say they were terrified and felt fortunate to be alive.
The unusual outbreak was created, in part, by unseasonably warm temperatures. The most destruction happened in Kentucky, where one massive twister traveled for more than 200 miles.
“It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who worked in a Mayfield, Ky., candle factory, told NBC News on Sunday. (Dec. 12). She said that at first she did not thing she would survive. “I was where I was at for at least two hours. I fell in a very awkward position.
“My back was against the wall and I was against the…water fountain, and I didn’t know behind the water fountain was an air conditioning unit,” she continued, “so when the search and rescue person came…I asked him could you please just get this off me so I can move my legs. He says, ‘ma’am, we’re trying but there’s about five of debris on top of you.
Perez was eventually rescued, but her ordeal is not unlike hundred of others who were trapped in workplaces or homes, across the affected area. Many town have been decimated and emergency workers continue to respond to the devastation, which comes less than two weeks before Christmas.
But the tragedy also brought out moments of care from strangers as well. Jimmy Finch, a Clarksville, Tenn., man drove up to Mayfield to provide assistance with food and water, according to Cincinnati station WLWT.
"I just came down here, trying to feed the people," Finch said. "Everybody's talking about they're sending up prayers and, you know, their well wishes and everything. You know, folks can't eat no prayer. We gotta put something in their stomach. Give them something to hold on to."
On Monday (Dec. 13), Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday (December 13) that 64 people have died while 105 remain unaccounted for.
"Thousands of homes are damaged if not entirely destroyed and it may be weeks before we have final counts on both deaths and levels of destruction," the governor said, according to NPR. He also warned that more deaths could be announced in the coming days.
At least 14 people were also killed in Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri.
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service say as of Sunday at least four EF-3 and five EF-2 tornadoes have been confirmed in Missouri and Illinois. An EF-3 twister is considered significant or severe with wind speeds reaching between 111 mph and 165 mph.
Initially, Bashear offered varying estimates over how many perished in his state – noting that between 50 and 100 had died. On Monday though, that number was revised to 64. The dead range in age from 5 months to 86 years with six being minors.
The NWS cautioned that it may be some time before the full scope of the storm’s severity will be known. Officials are surveying the affected and will continue to over the next few days.