“Thought it was the end for all of us:” Mayfield tornado survivors share their stories

MAYFIELD, Ky. (WKYT) – Many residents of Mayfield are still trying to figure out what happened in their community. Some said they were lucky to be alive.

Immediately after the tornadoes, there were concerns that dozens of people were missing in a collapsed candle factory in Mayfield.

A spokesperson said that was no longer the case as many were tallied. Eight are deceased and eight are still missing.

Chance Pitts said there has been a lot to think about over the past 16 days. In the moments when the roof collapsed on him, he thought he was going to die.

“I thought it was the end for all of us,” Pitts said.

Pitts was working at the plant when Friday’s tornado hit. He and his colleagues ran for their lives as the building began to shake.

“We started to feel a lot of pressure in the building, and then the building changed a couple of times. At that point, most of us ran out of the double doors to return to the hallway. I heard my supervisor yell “Forget it! “And as soon as we got down the whole building came over us,” Pitts said.

That’s when Pitts thought he was going to die.

“As soon as the building hit me, I started praying to God and crying. Then after it stopped, I was able to pull out my phone and call my wife. I told him that I loved him and that I didn’t know if I was going to come home or not, ”Pitts said.

Pitts and his wife are doing fine. They have lost a lot, but they have lost each other and their families, while others mourn the lives lost far too soon.

“One of them was a 22 year old man. He hasn’t even had a chance to see or experience life yet. You know what I mean? It does, it happens to me, ”Pitts said.

Pitts takes it day to day as he deals with the loss of some of his colleagues and prays for a miracle for those who are still missing.

The Lexington Fire Department is part of the search and rescue efforts at the Candle Factory. Mayor Linda Gorton said 17 members of the urban search and rescue team are working in teams to search for those still missing.

Another survivor is a Vietnam War veteran, who said he took refuge in one of only two places in his home that had not suffered significant damage.

“I prayed before he came, I prayed after he came. I’ve never seen anything scare me so much, ”said David Turner.

Turner’s house is all but gone, just a skeleton of shattered wood and fallen bricks.

“It looked like he picked up this house and couldn’t take it all, so he ripped off the roof, the ceilings, everything in there,” Turner said.

The tornado ripped off the roof of much of Turner’s house. He said what saved his life was taking cover in his hallway.

“The only ceiling that’s left in there is the hallway and the bathroom,” Turner said.

Like many people in Mayfield, Turner counts his blessings as he walks through what remains of his home and saves what he can, knowing that there are people in this community who have lost so much more.

“Me in my life, I’ve never experienced something like this. I’m just lucky. I’m a very, very lucky person to be alive today because I know a lot of people haven’t made it, ”said Turner.

It could be days, or even more, before we know the more concrete number of those we have lost due to these storms. Graves County appears to be the hardest hit with at least 20 people killed.

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