Dawson Springs, Kentucky, tornado survivor describes her harrowing experience

With tornado sirens wailing, Glisson wrapped her daughter (2) and son (4) in their bed – the innermost part of their house – in their arms to weather the storm. The roof collapsed, crushing her right arm.

“And then, in a millisecond, we were no longer in bed or in our house. We were somewhere on the top of the ground, ”Glisson said on Sunday in a trembling voice as she pointed perhaps 200 meters away.

“When I opened my eyes and looked around. I had no idea where I was. None, ”she said. “All I could do was get up and scream for help and try to find someone to help me and my children.”

Glisson’s arm was broken, her head injured, and her face injured. Your house was destroyed. But she is alive and her children are miraculously unharmed.

“It’s crazy. I can’t believe that I and my children are all right, ”said Glisson, who was standing in the middle of the rubble and wood that was her now utterly devastated neighborhood. “I can’t believe my kids don’t have broken bones. It’s crazy.”

Deadly tornadoes destroy more than 1,000 homes, claiming lives and livelihoods in several states

“I think we were on the mattress saved us because when we were flying through the air we were mostly not just flying through the air, but on the bed,” she said.

Of the 30 or so tornadoes that were reported in eight states on Friday evening, at least four tore through Kentucky and destroyed entire cities. About 75% of Dawson Springs has been wiped out, according to Mayor Chris Smiley. More than 100 of the roughly 2,500 people in the city have been reported missing, said Nick Bailey, director of emergency management for the county.

And “hundreds and hundreds” of survivors no longer have homes, Bailey said.

“We hope FEMA comes in here and tries to build something here,” Smiley told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday. “We’re a small town … So it’s going to be difficult to find a place for the temporary accommodations and so on.”

President Joe Biden is expected to visit the region on Wednesday.

Thirteen people were killed in Hopkins County, according to the coroner, and at least five of them were in Glisson’s neighborhood, including two elderly sisters who lived next to her.

“My children loved them,” said Glisson, still stunned by the trauma that night. “We talked to them every day.”

Glisson, her two children, and her mother are now in a motel room, an expense that eats up the family’s small savings. Friends donated a few nights there and they got blankets and food. “But we have nowhere to go,” said Glisson.

Glisson is a home mom with two children who need her all day attention. Her son is severely autistic and has a long list of other diagnoses, she said. Together with friends and volunteers, she was still looking in the rubble on Sunday for his medication, which he urgently needs to sleep.

“He takes it to sleep every night. He has trouble sleeping. And if he doesn’t get the medicine, he won’t sleep. It’s a nightmare, ”said Glisson in a broken voice. “I’m telling you it’s a nightmare. Nobody can sleep when my son cries all night. “

A tornado devastated the city of Dawson Springs.

no insurance

Glisson, 26, and so many others in Dawson Springs don’t have a clear path to rebuilding. According to the mayor, around a third of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. The median average household income is just over $ 25,000, according to the US Census Bureau.

“There will be many who don’t have insurance,” said Smiley. “They live month to month on a Social Security check or whatever they can get. They are all good people.”

Glisson wasn’t optimistic that her family would return at all.

This was the deadliest 24 hours in December for tornadoes ever recorded.

“My whole house is gone. We don’t have home insurance,” she said. “We won’t be able to recover from this.”

As Glisson walked through the rubble of her street, she met a man who helped her and her children emerge from the rubble and seek shelter in his basement immediately after the storm. When he hugs her, she collapses sobbing.

“Thank you for helping us,” she said.

“We’ll do that,” replied the man.

Ed Lavandera and Ashley Killough reported from Kentucky. Theresa Waldrop reported and wrote from Atlanta.

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