“Like a bomb”: a Kentucky town turned into a war zone

“It’s as if a bomb had exploded in our neighborhood”: after a trying night in total darkness, Alex Goodman on Saturday discovered the devastation caused by an overpowering tornado in his town of Mayfield, Kentucky .

Day has dawned on razed blocks, collapsed buildings, uprooted trees, large buildings with torn roofs, vehicles piled up and reduced to wreckage .

There are dozens of victims: the governor of Kentucky even said he feared a death toll exceeding 100 dead in the state.

Mrs. Goodman and her family are not one of them. “Fortunately, we live in a very old house, we were in the basement” when the tornado struck in the evening, she told AFP.

– “Heritage erased” –

“The electricity flickered, then the power was cut. You could actually feel the house vibrate. The sheer force of the wind and rain was unbelievable. It was pitch black, it screwed up the chips “, describes the 31 -year-old woman , mother of a newborn baby.

Once the exceptional meteorological phenomenon had passed, her husband and her father had to cut down trees felled by squalls to access their car.

A ripped roof house in Bowling Green, Ky. On 11 December 2021 (AFP – Gunnar Word ) Without the light Christmas decorations to guide us, without public lighting and with random telephone calls, we had to work to get news from friends, neighbors, family.

“We are a small tight-knit community”, reassures Alex Goodman, “we do everything we can”.

Then the light of day revealed the scale of the disaster. “We live in a historic town and all of our historical heritage has been erased. We have four old churches, our court, our bank … everything is destroyed”, laments the American.

– Night excavations in the rubble –

Among the buildings most affected is a candle factory, where a hundred employees worked night shifts to meet the demand for the holiday season. The building partially collapsed.

Ivy Williams rushed there in the middle of the night, in search of his wife Janine, an employee of the factory.

A warehouse in Mayfield, Ky. On 11 December 2021 (AFP – John Amis) “I got a call from my wife at 20 h 00, telling me that the storm was really bad, I said + OK + and here we hung up. Then at 22 H 22 my daughter called me to tell me the roof was ripped off, “he told CNN.

” I rushed over and when I got there it was like that, I mean, it was no longer a building, “he continued.

“Then I took part in the operations as much as I could, I managed to grab two people, a woman and a man. And I kept calling out the name of my wife –Janine Williams! – without getting an answer. And on Saturday I saw a man she was working with, who told me that she was on the list of people who were extirpated. But I don’t know. where they took her “.

Elsewhere in Kentucky, but also in the other plains and agricultural states of Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri, the tornadoes also sowed despair and chaos.