Kentucky tornado survivor details harrowing tale after being buried with others in debris for hours
"It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced in my life," Kyanna Parsons-Perez told the TODAY show on Saturday
Kyanna Parsons-Perez somehow kept her composure Friday night after a tornado flattened the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky where she worked, leaving her and her coworkers cloaked in darkness and buried under several feet of debris.
An estimated 110 people were in the building when it collapsed, according to WLKY. At least 80 people from Kentucky are believed to be dead as a result of the tornadoes that ravaged the state along with other parts of the midwest this weekend, according to the New York Times.
The death toll throughout the region rose to at least 90 on Sunday, according to the Times.
Parsons-Perez, who celebrated her 40th birthday on Saturday, said she called 911 Friday night before starting a Facebook Live stream to keep calm and seek additional help while she and her colleagues desperately waited for someone to aid them.
“All you heard was screams,” the recent Murray State University graduate told TODAY on Saturday. “It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I did not think I was going to make it at all. I was trying to stay positive.”
Parsons-Perez can be heard comforting her co-workers as they wept and prayed in Spanish during the ordeal.
“We’re going to be fine, Andrea,” she said during her Facebook live stream. “My birthday is in a couple hours. Y’all gonna sing happy birthday to me?”
Another survivor tried to sing as others in the group continued crying.
“You could hear people screaming and praying in Spanish and just hollering and, you know, trying to figure out what we could do,” Parsons-Perez told TODAY. “Everything happened so fast. They had us in the area where you go in case there’s a storm. And we were all there and then the lights got to flickering. And then all of a sudden we felt a gust of wind. My ears kind of start popping as they would if you were on a plane. Then, boom! Everything came down on us.”
Parsons-Perez said she and others had to climb out of the debris pile with the help of a search and rescue team. During a separate Facebook Live stream minutes later, her stoic demeanor melted away and her tears started to flow.
“They got me out. I’m OK,” Parsons-Perez said as she wept.
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