Trails of rubble, fallen houses, and snapped three trunks could be found in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Storm Prediction Center’s weather model, more than 50 tornadoes have been reported throughout the central and southern United States during the dusk hours on Friday, December 9, 2021.
This Quad-State Tornado unleashed on its 230-mile destructive path cutting through four states in only four hours; its tail swept through two additional states, seizing six states in total during the course of a night. The dragon swing halted the December holiday mood in America. A tornado is also called Dragon Swirling Wind in Asia; its threatening power is both widely physically and mentally acknowledged. Today, while Americans are slowly recovering from the pandemic, and in preparation of the first normal Christmas season since 2019, instead of holiday reindeer, this dragon thunder dropped a blunt year-end knell to the people who are affected, and those are watching.
The city of Mayfield, Kentucky saw some of the worst destruction. With winds of about 200mph, Mayfield was reduced to rubble, with blocks and blocks of houses collapsed. A candle factory, with 100 people inside, was instantly razed to the ground.
Kathy Stewart O’Nan, mayor of Mayfield, said “it looks as if a bomb has dropped on it. We hope there are still rescues to be made. We fear that it is now just recovery.” As of Monday of December 13, 2021, 74 people have been confirmed dead from the storm, with 109 others listed as unaccounted for in Kentucky.
“My ears start popping. And it was like inside of shaking building, we all just rocked back and forth, and then boom—everything fell on us,” Kyanna Parsons-Perez, a survivor from the destruction, told CNN about her experience inside the factory that night.
One horrific photo emerging from the destruction is the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. Amazon’s enormous compound, where they process tens of thousands of shipping orders hourly, has been left only with a skeleton of warehouse structure. Many left inside, families were waiting outside for a sign of their loved ones. It was confirmed six workers were killed inside.
Amazon does not know how many employees were inside the warehouse when it collapsed. About forty-five people escaped from the collapse. Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford announced that the search has been turned into a recovery mission that will last for three more days.
“All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis,” Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said on social media.
“It sounded like a train came through the building. The ceiling tiles came flying down. It was very loud. They made us shelter in place til we left—it was at least two and a half hours in there,” David Kosiak, an employee who escaped, said.
According to poweroutage.us, as of December 12, more than 53,000 people are without electricity in Kentucky. Kentucky governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and asked for federal assistance.
In Kentucky alone, there have been more than 70 deaths. “It may, in fact exceed 100 [deaths] before the day is done,” Beshear said.
Beshear also announced that rescuers would search door-to-door for people in need. “We call it door to door, but in many of those homes, there’s no door anymore,” Beshear commented. Almost 200 National Guard members have been dispatched to assist in the rescue, and a federal rescue team was also sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Michael E. Dossett, the director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, reported that the number of storms during this outbreak might surpass the 1974 tornado super outbreaks, according to The New York Times. “It is a significant, massive disaster event,” Dossett said.
Victims of the tornado included children as young as three years old. “This tornado didn’t discriminate. Anybody in its path, even if they were trying to be safe, again, just like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” the Governor said.
The tornado also brought great destruction to Monette, Arkansas. The collapsed roof of a nursing home caused one fatality and at least five injuries.
While some received no warning for the deadly tornado, it was still “a miracle” for those who did receive warnings to survive, as Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said regarding the destroyed Monette nursing home.
“As I went to that facility, it was like heaven sucked up the roof and all the contents of it. And it’s just a miracle with 67 residents that we only lost one there. And that’s because of the heroic efforts by the staff and also the fact that we had 20 minutes of warning,” Hutchinson told CNN.
A tornado siren delivered the 20-minute warning. Staff at the nursing home were able to relocate residents to safer areas.
Meteorologists believe the tornadoes could fall into EF5 categories, the categories for violent tornadoes. The last U.S. EF5 tornado hit Oklahoma in 2013, with peak winds estimated at 210mph, killing 24 people and injuring 212 civilians.