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tv   Nightline  ABC  December 14, 2021 12:37am-1:07am PST

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better ♪ tonight, the terror of the tornadoes. >> somebody, please, send us some help. >> utter devastation. the deadliest outbreak in more than a decade. >> nothing that was standing in the direct line of this tornado is still standing. >> we're on the ground in the heartland hearing from surviv survivors. >> he lifted a concrete wall off of me and my co-workers. >> plus, the helpers. so many paying it forward. >> it's time to step in and help out your neighbors. >> the world renowned chef helping to feet the hurngry. >> you see, it takes a village to take care of everybody. here you have an example of the
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best of the village. >> this special edition of "nightline," "deadly tornadoes" will be right back. you don't get much time for yourself. so when you do, make it count with crest pro-health. it protects the 8 areas dentists check for a healthier mouth. the #1 toothpaste brand in america. crest. tums vs. mozzarella stick when heartburn hits, fight back fast with tums chewy bites. fast heartburn relief in every bite. crunchy outside, chewy inside. ♪ tums, tums, tums, tums ♪ tums chewy bites ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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visit your volvo retailer for special offers during our holiday safely sales event. ♪ ♪ good evening. thank you for joining us. we're here in mayfield, kentucky, behind me the broken bones of a beloved community. darkness can disguise much of
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the despair here, but not all. this is a small town where folk know their neighbors, so everyone knows someone hurting. a city with no power, and no shortage of pain. >> please send us some help. >> help us! >> somebody please send us some help. we are trapped. >> there was a water fountain, an air conditioning unit, and five feet of debris on top of me. >> and we are trapped. please, y'all, get us some help. we're at the candle factory in mayfield. >> i believe that it saved me, it saved my life. >> reporter: unable to move. unable to escape. for nearly three hours, deanna parsons perez was trapped in darkness and debris. death and despair around her. >> some people still haven't made it home. some of them are in hospitals still, and why me? why me? how was i able to survive?
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>> reporter: a mother of four, her life hanging in the balance for hours at this factory, after a natural disaster of historic proportions ravaged her small corner of kentucky. in the beating heart of the country, over the weekend, a massive storm. a giant among giants. at least 40 reported tornadoes tearing apart the landscape piece by piece. >> this is a large, destructive event across nine states in the month of december. just crazy. >> reporter: at least 88 men, women, and children killed. >> what were those 24 hours like, hell, a war zone? >> reporter: from kentucky. >> it's upsetting. >> to missouri, illinois, tennessee, arkansas. nine states battered by the storm's path. >> our community has suffered such a tremendous loss of life. a way to make a living, homes. and we cry with them. >> reporter: the largest, a
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massive ef-3 tornado, stretching 200 miles across kentucky. wind speeds hitting 206 miles per hour. >> nothing that was standing in the direct line of this tornado is still standing. >> reporter: if hell hand a theme park, this would be it. homes and businesses by the hundreds, gone. >> we lost everything. we lost our home. we lost all of our vehicles, all of our belongings. we basically have nothing. >> reporter: tens of thousands more, left without power or water. the deadliest most destructive tornado outbreak to strike the u.s. in more than a decade. >> we've been granted the immediate federal state of emergency. it is rare. it was granted incredibly quickly. the national guard has been deployed. we have over 300 guardsmen that are active. >> reporter: in the hours before the storm, the national weather service issuing multiple warnings of possible tornadoes for western kentucky, southern missouri, southern illinois and
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southwest indiana. at times, using the word "destructive" to describe the potential tornadoes. >> this was a well forecast event days in advance. on the night of these storms, very good warnings, excellent lead times, 20, 30, 40-minute lead times at times with some of these tornados that were on the ground. and using words like life threatening, destructive, telling people to take cover. >> reporter: as day turned to night, the region fell into the cross hairs of an unstoppable storm. >> this was a large outbreak. tornadoes across nine states, and not in the central plains, this was an area that's pretty populated. so tens of millions of people that were in the threat zone when these tornadoes were dropping friday night. >> reporter: in illinois, the first tornado hitting land at 8:00 p.m. in its path, this amazon fulfillment center, with as many as 100 employees trapped inside. >> there's a lot of heavy concrete and steel down inside the building. >> reporter: at least six people
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were killed. 200 miles south in kentucky, in the dead of night, tornado sirens whipping through the darkness. an just after 9:00 p.m. -- >> mayfield in that warning. >> reporter: about 20 minutes later, a tornado closing in on the town of mayfield. >> you're in mayfield, you need to be in shelter right now. you need to be in your basement. a large tornado looks like it is going to have almost a direct hit here on mayfield. >> reporter: families across the region, bracing for impact. >> as soon as we got in the house and i got everybody hunkered down, you could feel the house shaking. >> reporter: at mayfield consumer products, a candle factory in the heart of town. keona is just checking in for evening shift. >> just a regular friday night. but when i first got to work, they said go ahead and go to the evacuation area. i'm like, already? and then all of a sudden, it was like the lights started to
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flicker. the building kind of swayed a little bit, and then it was oom, we dropped. >> somebody please, send us some help. we are trapped. >> reporter: within moments, the entire building reduced to rubble. co-workers scrambling to find colleagues. >> it's not a movie. i really lived through a tornado. i was really trapped in the building. i didn't dream it. i'm able to s-- i'm doing okay. baby, keep breathing. we're going to be fine. we're going to be out tomorrow, y'all. my birthday is in a couple hours. it's almost 10:00. >> reporter: every single perp that was working that night was accounted for. eight employees were killed. satellite imagery showing the factory before and what now is. one employee, jim douglas, a father of two, was rescued after
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being trapped under 15 to 20 feet of twisted steel for four hours. he spoke to my colleague, david muir. >> what do you remember? >> i remember everything. i could hear like some loud thumps that i thought was big hail or something. and then the wall came down on top of me, hit me in the head, and, umm, knocked me on the ground and people just screaming for help and terrorized. >> reporter: another co-worker, jamaria hart was rescued and rushed to the hospital, where he spoke to abc news from his hospital bed. >> the wall to my right, like just complete livanished.
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so my main focus was just try to make sure i can save every breath i could take in. >> reporter: terrifying hours trapped in debris. around him, friends and co-workers who did not make it. >> i didn't know if i was going to survive or not. i kept hearing people around me yell, this person has died, this person is not responding. like, people were just panicking. >>ment mentally, i'm a mess. i just kind of got a wall up, trying to block everything out for now, just to put on a front for my kid. >> reporter: autumn kirks also lived to tell her story. tonight, grateful for life's simple joy, like the laughter of her children. she was also working at the candle factory friday night, when disaster struck. >> it picked the building up and dropped it back on top of us is what it felt like.
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i mean, it was just gone. >> reporter: her boyfriend, joe ward, standing ten feet away from her, when the roof collapsed. a co-worker pulling autumn from the rubble. she survived. joe did not. >> my 3-year-old, i didn't really explain anything. she just keeps asking, where's joe? where is daddy? i said, he's in heaven with god right now. >> reporter: rescuers recovering his body in the rubble sunday night. for autumn, the tornado spared her home. but not her heart. >> i'm not ready to deal with the fact that i just lost who was going to be my husband very soon. he had asked me to marry him ten months ago, and obviously god had other plans for him. that's okay. god obviously needed him more than i did right now. so -- >> my grand mother used to say god doesn't put heavy burdens on weak shoulders. >> i believe that. >> this candle was made at the
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candle factory. and this is an old candle, too, that was made at our location. >> reporter: for keana, these small moments of joy are all the more precious. moments with family. moments of love. >> keep the faith. just stay positive. just stay positive. regardless of what happened, just stay positive. and know that god's will is going to be done. >> reporter: tonight in the community without power, many without running water, faith remains in abundance. a church without a roof held services any way on sunday. >> we will simply pull together and find ways to grieve, celebrate, to locate, and to care. >> where else to observe sunday but at church? to grow in faith and be thankful that our lives were spared. >> reporter: in scripture, the faithful are reminded to be
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strong and courageous. and that is the mantra for many. >> we have to rely on our faith and rely on one another. and we will get through this. this up to is small, but it's mighty. we will survive. support from so many. helping to fill the enormous need of those impacted. people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible with rybelsus®. with rybelsus®. with rybelsus®. ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ ♪ my only sunshine... ♪ rybelsus® is a pill that lowers rybelsus® is a pill that lowers rybelsus® is a pill that lowers blood sugar in three ways. increases insulin when you need it... increases insulin when you need it... increases insulin when you need it... decreases sugar... decreases sugar... decreases sugar... and slows food. the majority of people taking rybelsus® lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than 7. rybelsus® isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. don't take rybelsus® if you or your family don't take rybelsus® if you or your family
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welcome back. here in kentucky, thousands of families are experiencing so much loss. many without homes and basic necessities. and almost immediately, strangers began stepping up to help. here's abc's victor >> reporter: community, the tornados that devastated kentucky. helpers emerging across the state. we visited this donation center in bowling green where an ef-3 tornado killed 15 people and left behind catastrophic damage. this drive, organized by the warren county school district, a steady stream of people all day. car after car, unloading trunks filled with supplies for those in need. >> sweatshirts, winter coats. anything, food, water. i've given my number out to many
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people. people that lost their homes, so they can call me and i can be there at the drop of a dime. >> reporter: josh bulin's retaurant has raised nearly $50,000 in gift cards over the last two days. >> when the tornadoes hit, you felt like you had to jump into action? >> yeah. i was so fortunate, i didn't have any damage on my personal property, i didn't have anything in the business. that's your sign that it's time to step in and help out your >> reporter: the donations e.- coming straight from restaurant owner's pockets. >> this is the owners stepping in. when we came out of the pandemic, we begged people, please come back to your restaurants. i'll never forget that first night, a full restaurant, feeling that energy again. bowling green kept showing up, so we wanted to let them know we haven't forgot than they showed up. so we're showing up for them.
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>> reporter: bringing more than 300 gift cards to the donation drive. where they will be distributed to those impacted the hardest. >> here you go. i told him on the way over, another $1,000 coming your way. everybody is rolling out. >> you guys have been phenomenal. no words. >> reporter: this is a tight-knit community. so when hospital officials announced a desperate need for blood, people from all over traveled through debris strewn roads and streets to answer the call. what does this mean so many people willing to give blood? >> it shows how strong the community is and how much people are wanting and willing to help. very heartwarming. >> reporter: 2 1/2 hours east in mayfield where at least eight have died, the devastation the complete. more helping hands, volunteers are now in a search and rescue
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mission for these lost pets. >> there are going to be a lot of people looking. so we want to create a place for them to be able to come find their pets easily, instead of searching all over the community. >> reporter: bringing them back to the community animal shelter. >> right now, we have a little over 100 animals with us. the animals here, they will all be up for adoption, if we can't find the owner. >> reporter: celebrity chef jose coming to help. his team has provided more than 50 million meals for people all over the world following natural disasters and other crises from lebanon to puerto rico to new orleans. >> we have a lot of people coming to ground zero. you see, it takes a village to take care of everybody. here you have an example of the best of that village. >> reporter: today they're cooking up chicken pot pies at the fair ground. >> we refer to our teams as food first responders. it's very important to get in there right away, as they're
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still taking stock of what has happened to their communities. and also take care of the first responders. >> reporter: sam block is the director of emergency response for world central kitchen, and has been leading the efforts for the last three days. >> every disaster is different, as are the communities and that you are needs. here we have responded to multiple tornados in the past and this is the largest tornado destruction we have ever worked with. as we all know, you can't go do anything without water or electricity, so we'll be here until we're no longer needed. >> reporter: working with over 25 local restaurants, food truck partners and local chefs to serve up everything from soul food to tacos across the region. >> and it's been a great effort. you see a lot of neighbors helping neighbors, and a lot of times we're able to help
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organize those neighborly efforts and be sure that food is consistent, and we'll continue to be here as long as they need us. >> reporter: so far, they have served more than a thousand meals, even delivering meals to community member's homes. >> the message is to stay strong. we have seen a lot of kindness from neighbors, just to stay strong and we'll be there alongside of you as long as it's needed. >> reporter: throughout kentucky, the helpers from near and far, banding together, providing comfort food, and comfort in times of chaos. up next, amid all the loss, the family hairloom found more did you know some deodorants may not last all day? secret works immediately! and is designed to last for up to 48 hours. with secret, keep it fresh. available in over 10 amazing scents and aluminum free.
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are waking up to what's possible with rybelsus®. ♪ you are my sunshine ♪ ♪ my only sunshine... ♪ rybelsus® is a pill that lowers blood sugar in three ways. increases insulin when you need it... decreases sugar... and slows food. the majority of people taking rybelsus® lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than 7. rybelsus® isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. don't take rybelsus® if you or your family ever had medullary thyroid cancer, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or if allergic to it. stop rybelsus® and get medical help right away if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, or an allergic reaction. serious side effects may include pancreatitis. tell your provider about vision problems or changes. taking rybelsus® with a sulfonylurea or insulin increases low blood sugar risk. side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration, which may worsen kidney problems. wake up to what's possible with rybelsus®.
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♪ please don't take my sunshine away ♪ you may pay as little as $10 per prescription. ask your healthcare provider about rybelsus® today.
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and finally tonight, a remarkable discovery when she went out to her car on saturday. what she first thought was a
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receipt on her windshield turned out to be an 80-year-old photo that had been carried from dawson springs, kentucky, 130 miles away. through the magic of the internet, she was able to track down the famtly. they all plan to meet soon so the photo can be returned. a reason to smile. that's "nightline" for this evening. catch full episodes on hulu. see you back here same time tomorrow. thanks for the company, america. and good night from mayfield, kentucky, a place badly bruised but not broken.

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