Devastated Kentucky tornado survivors pick up debris

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MAYFIELD – Residents of Kentucky, many of whom have no electricity, gas, or even a roof over their heads, woke up on Sunday in a landscape marked by a series of powerful tornadoes which authorities say have killed at least 100 people while wiping out homes, businesses and everything in their path. .

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Authorities said they had little hope of finding survivors under the rubble, but rescuers continued to search the debris fields and residents recovered any property they could find.

At least 100 people are believed to have been killed in Kentucky alone after tornadoes ravaged the Midwest and southern United States on Friday night. Six workers were killed at an Amazon.com warehouse in Illinois. A retirement home was hit in Missouri. Over 70,000 people were left without power in Tennessee.

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But nowhere has suffered more than the small town of Mayfield, Ky., Where powerful tornadoes, which meteorologists say are unusual in winter, destroyed a candle factory, fire department and police station. In the city of 10,000 people in the southwestern corner of the state, houses have been flattened or roofs missing, giant trees have been uprooted and road signs have been mutilated.

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People searched the rubble of their homes for their belongings until night fell on Saturday, when the city without electricity became bogged down in darkness except for flashlights. and emergency vehicle headlights.

Refrigeration repair technician Timothy McDill, 48, slept on Saturday night without water or electricity in his Mayfield home, which his parents bought in 1992. A telephone pole had gone through a window and the brick exterior was ripped off , leaving entire pieces exposed.

On the night of the storm, he tied his wife, two grandchildren aged 14 and 12, their two chihuahuas and a cat to a drain in their basement using a rope for flagpole and waited until it was finished.

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“They were soldiers. They didn’t cry much, ”McDill said of the children. “My wife and I were all crying. We were afraid of losing the children and they don’t think about it.

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Steve Wright, 61, was driving for gas on Sunday morning, nervous because he was running out of gas. A Mayfield resident for four years, his apartment complex has been largely spared.

After the storm passed, he grabbed a flashlight and started walking around town looking for people who might be trapped. He ended up helping a father lift his dead 3-year-old from the rubble.

“It was bad. I helped dig up a dead baby, right here,” he said, pointing to the wreckage that was once a two story house. “I prayed for them both, it’s is all I could do. “

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared the tornadoes to be the most destructive in state history. He said around 40 workers were rescued at a candle factory in Mayfield, where around 110 people are believed to have been inside when she was hit.

“I have cities that are gone… My father’s hometown of Paxton is not standing,” Beshear said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, adding that the devastation was difficult to see. to describe.

“You think you can go door to door to see if people are okay – there are no doors. The question is, is anyone in the rubble of thousands and thousands of structures? “

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In Edwardsville, Ill., Six Amazon workers were confirmed dead Saturday after the roof of a warehouse was torn off, causing concrete walls 11 inches (28 cm) thick longer than to collapse. football fields.

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At least 45 Amazon employees have emerged unharmed from the 500,000 square foot facility, said fire chief James Whiteford. It was not known how many workers were still missing because Amazon did not have the exact number of people working in the sorting and delivery center at the time, Whiteford said.

The genesis of the tornado outbreak was a series of nighttime thunderstorms, including a supercell storm that formed in northeast Arkansas. This storm moved from Arkansas and Missouri to Tennessee and Kentucky.

Unusually high temperatures and humidity created the environment for such an extreme weather event at this time of year, experts said.

President Joe Biden told reporters he would ask the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the role climate change may have played in fueling storms.

Mayfield resident Jamel Alubahr, 25, said his three-year-old nephew had died and his sister was in hospital with a broken skull after being trapped under the rubble of their home.

“It all happened in a snap,” said Alubahr, who now lives with another sister in Mayfield.

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