While rescue teams continued searching through rubble in search of survivors following a devastating storm that decimated Kentucky on Friday night, 94 people died. Now those lucky enough to have survived the disaster are sharing their stories. 

Many were able escape the rubble of western Kentucky which was the worst affected area by the devastating storm. It also suffered the most from the destruction and death that swept across six other states. Its epicenter was the town of Mayfield, a town of about 10,000 people in the far western part of Kentucky, where the Bluegrass State borders Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.

Many tried to take shelter in the moments before the storm hit, including a man – who identified himself only as Dakota – and Valerie Yanis who found themselves trapped under a water fountain at a candle factory in Mayfield, for about two hours after the tornado rampaged through. 

Both Yanis and Dakota admitted that they had feared not making it. Dakota sent Brandy a text message saying that he loved her and would tell his mom. Brandy said that Dakota had tried to text Brandy, but it was too late. She also noted how hours passed before Brandy could confirm if he was still alive.

Dakota stated that they eventually found a fire-hydrant and used it to dig through the rubble. Dakota said that he joined the rescue team. “I discovered people with broken legs and some nonresponsive.

Yanis claimed that she suffered injuries to her head, shoulder, and leg during the escape but was released from hospital. USA Today spoke to Yanis, saying that the escape felt almost like a nightmare.

Dakota left, a man who identified himself as Dakota said that he had found himself under the water fountain of the Mayfield candle shop. The store was also destroyed by the tornado. His girlfriend Brandy was left to text him that he loves her because he didn’t think he would make it through the tornado.

More than 100 people were working at the factory when the storm hit, but only 40 of them were rescued and alive as of Sunday, including Chesa Logue, who told USA Today she had restarted working at the candle factory two weeks before the storm hit.

According to Sherry, the managers set people up under shelter and in a toilet. This was where they stayed 15 minutes. Then it fell down.

She said, “All that you could hear were the screams from the people.”

She said that her head was covered with a 5-gallon container of chemical chemicals. The woman sitting on the top of it’managed herself to be free and get out of between the walls.

“And then I just lifted my head from between the buckets and the wall, and it was gone.”

USA Today asked her how she survived the chaos, but she didn’t know.

Lora Capps also celebrated her tenth year at work at the candle factory Friday.

ABC News reported that she had taken shelter with a janitor in her bathroom, and fell into a pit in the ground under all the debris. She recalled her final moments with the Janitor, saying that he kept telling her “I can’t breath” and she replied “I’m trying.”

“I wanted his family to know that I did my best. I told him to “Just go with God. I’ll likely be following you.”

Capps didn’t die, she was instead found by three men using a flashlight. They helped her to safety then reunited with her son.

Capps declared, “This is going to traumatize you for the rest my life.”

One of Friday's tornadoes is believed to have remained on the ground for 227 miles, a world record. Kentucky bore the brunt of the destruction, and the storm is now the deadliest tornado strike in the state's history

A Friday tornado is thought to have been on the ground for 227 mile, which would be a record. Kentucky suffered the greatest damage, with the storm being the deadliest tornado attack in Kentucky history.

Search are rescue crews work at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory Sunday morning. Rescuers describe crawling over the bodies of the dead to reach survivors, and only 40 out of 110 workers have been recovered alive

Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory was the scene of a rescue operation Sunday morning. The rescue crews crawled over the remains of the deceased to get to survivors. Rescuers only managed 40 workers alive.

Recovery crews work at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory where 110 were working when the tornado struck. Only 40 of the workers were rescued alive

Rescue crews are at work at Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, where 110 people were in the workplace when the tornado struck. Only 40 people were saved alive.

Factory owner Mayfield Consumer Products was a major employer in the town of 10,000. The family-owned, 1998 founded business had been recently hiring — rare in America where small producers are often outsourced to larger companies.

Troy Propes stated in a company message that “Our Mayfield, Kentucky facility was devastated by a tornado December 10, 2021” and that tragically, employees were injured and killed.

“Our employees, many of whom have been working with us for many decades, are treasured.”

To meet the high Christmas demand, the factory employed local inmates and operated in shifts.

One group of prisoners helped some victims to get out of the debris left by the storm.   

Sarah Burgess, Kentucky State Trooper said that rescue teams used heavy equipment on Sunday to clear rubble from the candle factory. Coroners were called to the scene and bodies were recovered, but she didn´t know how many.

Rescue efforts were complicated because Mayfield´s main fire station and emergency services hub were also hit by the tornado. 

Jackie and Doug Koon's two-month-old daughter, Oaklynn, may have suffered from a stroke in the storm

Jackie and Doug Koon’s two-month-old daughter, Oaklynn, may have suffered from a stroke in the storm

The four year-old son of the couple had to also have a CT at a local hospital in order to make sure that his brain bleed did not become worse.

Jackie Koon and Doug Koon were among others to speak out about the emotional trauma they experienced in their aftermath.  

Doug said that the family went to Jackie’s mom’s home, where Jackie was staying before the storm struck. The family, he said, huddled together in a bathroom with their sons and baby girl. Their two-month old daughter was strapped in to her car seat.

Jackie shared the frightening news via Facebook.

Her mother was finally struck by the tornado in Dawson Springs. She said that she and her family went flying, landing on the opposite side of the neighbor’s home.

Doug said that he saw his 4-year-old son screaming for daddy as the storm passed. Doug claimed that the boy was suffering from a head injury and was still bleeding.

According to him, he attempted to stop the blood loss as he searched the rubble looking for family members. This was done by shouting and moaning, each family member being returned one at time.  

He said, “It was the most traumatizing thing that I have ever experienced.” “I felt helpless to protect my children against it. He claimed he attempted to stop the bleeding, get everyone to safety and to prevent his mother-in law’s home from being completely destroyed. Then he rushed his family into the hospital.

According to him, his son of four years had to be scanned with CT to make sure the brain injury he suffered did not worsen. His two-month old daughter Oaklynn was also hospitalized overnight.

Jackie shared on Facebook that her daughter had suffered a stroke after she was injured in her neck by doctors at her local hospital. 

The baby was incubated, and then transferred to another hospital. 

Jackie said, “Hold on to your family members,” “I didn’t imagine having to go,” Jackie said. [through]You can do something similar in your life. 

Jackie Koon posted updates about the family's survival after a deadly tornado passed through her mother's house in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, completely destroying the house

Jackie Koon updated the family about their survival following a tornado which destroyed her mother’s home in Dawson Springs.

Doug Koon spoke to MSNBC about having to find his children in the rubble after they were swept away in the storm

Doug Koon talked to MSNBC to discuss the difficulty of finding his kids in the rubble, after their children were swept away by the storm.

The deadly tornado left many people without hope. Gov. Andy Beshar stated that the deadly tornado was the worst in Kentucky history.

Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, a married father of three, was among those killed in the storm

Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick (married father of three) was killed in the storm.

Kentucky is the only state where there has been a confirmed tornado death. It was 80.

This breaks the record set by the National Weather Service in 1890 for the worst tornado that struck Kentucky. It was established when a twister caused the deaths of 76 people near Louisville. 

‘[The death toll]More than 100 people will be affected. CNN has just witnessed the most severe tornadoes ever recorded. Beshear said that the Dawson Springs list of missing people is 8 pages in length, with one-spaced.

‘I’ve got towns that are gone – that are just, I mean, gone,’ he said. You go door to door looking for people, and you find out if they are okay. There are no doors. It begs the question, “Is there anyone in this rubble?” I mean, it’s devastating.’ 

A single twister created a track unlike any other. The stormfront tore apart a Kentucky candle factory, destroyed a Arkansas nursing home, and toppled an Amazon distribution centre in Illinois.

Beshear stated that one tornado was in the ground for 227 mile, 200 miles of which were in Kentucky. This would surpass the previous global tornado-track record, 219 miles. 

Six people were killed in Illinois when an Amazon facility was attacked; there are four others in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and one in Missouri. 

Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick is one of those who died. A 43-year-old married father of three, Crick served McLean, Muhlenberg and McLean counties. The commonwealth’s Supreme Court chief judge confirmed that Crick was also among those affected by the storm.  

Local residents Darlene Easterwood and Tim Evans embrace after taking part in an outdoor Sunday service with members of First Christian Church and First Presbyterian Church in the aftermath of a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky

After participating in an outdoor Sunday worship service, Darlene Easterwood (left) and Tim Evans (right), local residents Darlene and Tim Evans were reunited after they took part in the response to a tornado that struck Mayfield in Kentucky.

Workers remove a sign from a destroyed business in aftermath of a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday

After a tornado struck Mayfield, Kentucky, workers removed a sign from the site.

First Presbyterian Church was left mostly destroyed in the center of Mayfield in tornadoes that killed scores of Kentuckians

First Presbyterian Church, which was located in Mayfield’s center, was mostly destroyed by the tornadoes that claimed many Kentuckians.

People embrace on Sunday as tornado damage is seen in Mayfield, Kentucky after extreme storms struck, leaving more than 80 people dead Saturday i

After severe storms hit Kentucky, people embrace as the tornado damage in Mayfield is visible. More than 80 people were killed in Saturday’s extreme storms.

In Earlington, Kentucky the powerful winds derailed a freight train, tossing the heavy cars like a child's playthings

A freight train was stalled in Earlington Kentucky by strong winds. The heavy vehicles were tossed around like children’s toys.

Dena Ausdorn stands at the remains of her home after a tornado leveled the town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Ausdorn has lived there for 28 years and lost two of her dogs with another left paralyzed after the tornado

Dena Ausdorn standing at the remains her home, after it was torn down by the tornado that decimated Dawson Springs in Kentucky. Ausdorn lived in the home for 28 years. She lost two of her pets and one was paralysed by the tornado.

As the sun rose on Sunday morning, survivors in Mayfield picked through the rubble to salvage anything they could

Mayfield survivors salvaged whatever possible from the wreckage as the sun rose early Sunday morning

You can see the Mayfield courthouse both before and after a powerful storm. The clock tower was ripped out of the second floor.

Kentuckyans, including many who were left without electricity, water, or roofs, tried to salvage as much as possible in devastated towns on Sunday.

In a Telegram, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, offered his’sincere condolences” to Joe Biden in spite of rising tensions regarding the Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border. 

Due to the historical nature of this storm, some have attributed climate change to Biden and Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator.

Criswell said that climate change is causing a crisis in our time. Criswell made the statement to CNN this Sunday. “This is our new normal.”

This tornado was caused by warm weather, according to meteorologists. However, it is unclear if climate change played a role in the outbreak. 

Timothy McDill, 48, tears up on Sunday as he recounts the story of surviving the tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky

Timothy McDill (48), weeps as he recounts his story about surviving the Mayfield tornado, Kentucky. 

McDill, who continues to spend the night inside his home to protect it from looters, stands in his living room while looking out over the damage and debris on Sunday morning

McDill continues to stay in his house to guard it against looters. He stands in his living area while looking at the destruction and debris Sunday morning.

The night of the storm, McDill (above) tied himself, his wife, his two grandkids, 14 and 12, their two Chihuahuas and a cat to a drainpipe in their basement using a flagpole rope and waited for it to be over

McDill tied himself (above), his wife, and his two grandkids, ages 14 and 12, and their Chihuahuas, and cat, to the drainpipe of their basement with a flagpole rope. He waited for the storm to pass.

A telephone pole came through a window of the home and the brick exterior was ripped off, leaving entire rooms exposed

The brick exterior of the house was torn off by a telephone pole that entered through the window.

Tornado damage is seen Sunday in Mayfield after extreme weather hit the region on Friday night. Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead

After Friday’s extreme weather, tornado damage was seen in Mayfield Sunday. Overnight, more than 80 people were killed when dozens of tornadoes tore through five US States.

Bogdan Gaicki surveys tornado damage Sunday in Mayfield, Kentucky after extreme weather hit the region, leaving more than 80 people dead in the deadliest storm in Kentucky history

Bogdan Gaicki inspects tornado damage in Mayfield (Kentucky) Sunday after severe weather struck the area, leaving over 80 dead.

Kentucky residents, many without power, water or even a roof over their heads, worked on Sunday to salvage what they could in towns that had been all but destroyed

Many Kentuckyans were without electricity, water, or a roof to protect their heads on Sunday as they tried to save what little they could from towns nearly destroyed.

People walk amongst damage caused by tornados in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday as survivors picked through the wreckage

On Sunday, survivors of the tornadoes that decimated Mayfield in Kentucky, seen people walking among the destruction.

Late Friday rescue crews have struggled to find the factory’s wreckage, which is littered with fallen girders, twisted sheet metal, since late Friday.

The dogs have been used to remove corpses and move with ease through the debris using heavy machinery. Dogs with special training sniff out the wreckage to locate any dead or living persons still buried. 

Western Kentucky University had previously stated that a student was killed. However, they changed their statement to say that the deceased had been a relative of one of their seniors.

Graduation ceremonies at the school, which were scheduled for Saturday, have been cancelled. There are still power cuts throughout the area, so electricity is not available to students. 

In this aerial photo, a collapsed candle factory is seen with workers searching for survivors Sunday in Mayfield, Kentucky

This aerial photograph shows a burned candle factory and workers looking for survivors in Mayfield (Kentucky).

A general view of damage and debris in Mayfield, Kentucky after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through

A general view of damage and debris in Mayfield, Kentucky after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through

A general view of a hallway inside a nursing home in Mayfield, Kentucky is seen Sunday after a tornado strike

A general view of a hallway inside a nursing home in Mayfield, Kentucky is seen Sunday after a tornado strike

Destroyed homes and debris are seen in a heavily damaged neighborhood at dawn in Dawson Springs, Kentucky

At dawn, debris and homes that have been destroyed can be seen in Dawson Springs in Kentucky.

The remains of Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church after a tornado in Dawson Springs on Sunday. A monstrous tornado, carving a track that could rival the longest on record, ripped across the middle of the U.S. on Friday

After Sunday’s tornado, the remains of Dawson Springs Primitive Christian Church were destroyed. On Friday, an enormous tornado ripped through the middle of the United States, leaving a trail that may rival any record.

Decimated homes are seen in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday following the deadliest tornado in Kentucky's history

Following the most destructive tornado in Kentucky history, homes destroyed in Mayfield were seen in Kentucky.

Fire Chief James Whiteford stated that at least six victims were killed when the Amazon warehouse collapsed in Edwardsville, Illinois. Another injured worker was airlifted from the scene to an emergency room.

Larry Virden (46), was one of the many victims. He died after the roof fell at the huge facility. He had been working at Amazon for five months, and his girlfriend of 13 years, Cherie Jones, told the New York Post the company ordered him to hold off on driving until after the storm passed.

She said that he sent her text messages. “He tells me every time he fills up his Amazon truck that he’s getting ready for the return trip.

“I was like, “OK, you love me,” and he is like, “Well Amazon won’t let us leave until the storm has passed.”

Jones stated that the text was sent at around 8.23pm. This is 16 minutes prior to the time the tornado struck.

Jones claimed that Jones lived with the couple in Collinsville about thirteen minutes from their warehouse.

She said that she heard about the tornado not reaching its destination until 8.39. He had only 20 minutes left to return home. I messaged him, and that was my last message.

“I told the man where we lived, but it was only lightning.” He didn’t reply to me.

She said that Amazon was not to blame for Virden’s death. He could have returned home.

She said that Virden fought for peace with his Creator when he was in Iraqi Army, and that Virden had been ready to die. But we didn’t want him to die now.’

Jones explained that Jones and Jones are having trouble understanding why Jones isn’t returning home with their children. 

Chief Whiteford stated that investigators continued to search the rubble for more victims on Sunday. 45 of them survived. Officials were not sure Saturday night if any people were still missing, as workers were going through a shift change at the time the tornado hit.

Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha stated in writing that “This is a tragic tragedy for our Amazon Family and we focus on supporting our employees, partners,” Richard Rocha wrote. 

In Earlington, Kentucky the powerful winds derailed a freight train, sending one car flying 75 yards from the tracks

One car flew 75 yards away from the tracks in Earlington, Kentucky, when powerful winds blew a freight train.

People work at the scene of a train derailment in Earlington after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes

A train derailed in Earlington, following a terrible tornado storm.

Workers say it will take some time to clear the tracks after the powerful winds ripped a freight train off the tracks

Workers estimate that clearing the tracks will take time after powerful winds tore a freight railroad off its tracks

The powerful wind also slowed a freight train in Earlington Kentucky. One vehicle flew 75 feet from the tracks.

Photographs show two cars that separated from the train just near Highway 41. Much of the rest was tilted on the sides. 

They say that it sounds almost like a train. Jesse Johnson was present at Earlington’s tornado center and spoke on WFIE TV. 

A family photo from the past was taken more than 130 miles by the twister before being recovered in its original state and returned to its owner.

Katie Posten from New Albany, Indiana wrote that she found the 1940s photo stuck to her windshield while walking to her car. 

“The tornado that struck Kentucky last night appears to have dissipated just slightly southwest of us. It’s also said to have carried debris into the air up to seven-miles or more. So there’s no doubt it came from an area in the path to destruction,” Posten stated in a public appeal to find the owner of the photograph.

Incredibly, thanks to the inscription on the back, Posten was able to reunite the photo with the Swatzell family in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. 

In the midst of so many tragedies in Mayfield and elsewhere, it was rare to find hope. Whole blocks of buildings had been destroyed, entire neighborhoods were flattened, homes and buildings were torn apart. Bricks were scattered around streets, along with twisted metal, broken tree branches and damaged bricks. 

The tornadoes also destroyed the clock tower of the city’s courthouse. This historic landmark was built in 1903.  

Katie Posten, of New Albany, Indiana, found a family photo on her windshield that was carried 130 miles in the storm

Incredibly, thanks to the inscription on the back, Posten was able to reunite the photo with the Swatzell family in Dawson Springs, Kentucky

Katie Posten from New Albany, Indiana found a photo of her family on her windshield. Through a Facebook public appeal, she was able locate the Kentucky family that it belonged, 130 miles distant, by finding them on Facebook

In this aerial view, homes and businesses are destroyed on Saturday after a tornado ripped through town the previous evening in Mayfield, Kentucky. Multiple tornadoes touched down in several Midwest states

This aerial view shows homes and businesses destroyed by a tornado that struck Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday. Numerous tornadoes struck several Midwest states.

People retrieve merchandise from a Mayfield store after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes

After a severe tornado outbreak, people return merchandise to a Mayfield shop.

Satellite images show shows homes and buildings in Mayfield before and after a devastating twister

A general view of damage and debris after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through several U.S. states, in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday

General view showing the destruction and debris following a severe tornado outbreak that decimated several U.S. States, taken in Mayfield (Kentucky) on Sunday

Emmanuel Baptist Church is seen in the aftermath of the tornadoes on Friday in Mayfield, Kentucky on Saturday morning

The tornadoes that struck Mayfield on Friday left the remnants of the Emmanuel Baptist Church visible.

A resident of the The Cardinal Inn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looks at the damages done after a tornado touched down

One resident from the The Cardinal Inn, Bowling Green (Ky.) looks at the damage done by a tornado.

At least two were dead and many people were trapped after a roof partially collapsed at this Amazon warehouse after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois

After a tornado ripped through Edwardsville in Illinois, at least two people died and several others were left trapped by a partially collapsed roof of this Amazon warehouse.

Victor Gensini of Northern Illinois University is an extreme weather researcher and said that if early reports confirm, then the twister “will likely go down maybe as one the longest track violent tornadoes ever recorded in the United States,”

In March 1925, the longest known tornado was tracked over 220 miles across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Gensini claimed that the twister could have traveled nearly 250 miles. He said that the storm was even more impressive because it occurred in December when tornadoes are less common due to colder weather.

Mayfield is a small city in Western Kentucky that has about 10,000 inhabitants. The ground was covered in debris from burned buildings and trees. Streets were littered with twisted metal sheets, powerlines down and vehicles that had been damaged. Buildings that still had windows or roofs were torn down.

Janine Denise Williams, 50 year-old mother of four and a member of her family, was one among the missing at candle factory. Family members kept watch on Saturday.

‘It´s Christmastime and she works at a place that´s making candles for gifts,’ her brother, Darryl Williams, said. To give up life in order to create a gift. We haven´t heard anything, and I´m not presuming anything. But I´m expecting for the worst.’

Johnson Williams called her husband over night to inform him that the weather was becoming severe. That’s the last she heard from anyone.

Search and rescue crews work through the night at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory early Sunday in Mayfield

Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, Mayfield. Rescue crews worked through the night.

Emergency response workers dig through the rubble of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield on Saturday. Only 40 out of the 110 workers in the factory have been rescued alive

Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory was razed to the ground by emergency workers on Saturday. Only 40 workers from the factory were saved alive.

Emergency workers transport a tornado victim in a body bag at the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory on Saturday

A tornado victim was transported by emergency personnel to the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory.

Vernon Evans stated that he ran to firefighters to rescue residents from a Mayfield nursing home wall collapsed. One resident was found dead under a few inches water.

His response was, “All that I could do was to sit down and raise their head,” he stated. “This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.”

On Saturday, President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Kentucky and promised to help the states affected.

Biden stated, “I swear you that whatever is required – whatever it is necessary – the federal government will find a means to provide it,”

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has established a tornado relief fund to directly assist those impacted by the storm system, donations can be made at: TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov