Survivors reeling in aftermath of Kentucky tornado

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(NewsNation Now) — A mother of three said she had to rush her three children into a bathtub and cover the family in a mattress to survive last week’s powerful tornado in her Bowling Green, Kentucky home.

“The emotions were just so strong,” Audrey Morrison said on “Rush Hour” on Monday. “I was really shook up I was really upset. I was terrified. I was devastated.”

More than 80 people died in the tornado outbreak across the Midwest. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the death toll in his state is at least 74.

Kentucky was the worst hit by far in the cluster of twisters across several states, remarkable because they came at a time of year when cold weather normally limits tornadoes. 

“I’m traumatized. It’s really bad here,” said Morrison. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Morrison hugged her children as they sheltered in the bathtub, fearing for their lives during the storm.

“The kids were upset, I was upset. It was just really scary. That house was just shaking, and you can hear it just flying by like a train. We were crying,” Morrison said. “And then we come out later the next day and we see this and it’s just it’s so sad.”

At least 12 people were reported killed in and around Bowling Green. With afternoon high temperatures forecast only in the 40s, tens of thousands of people were without power. About 300 National Guard members went house to house, checking on people and helping to remove debris. Cadaver dogs searched for victims.

“Businesses are flattened, homes are flattened,” Morrison said. “There’s children missing. There’s still people in the rubble.”

In Mayfield, just two hours drive west from Bowling Green, at least eight people working at a candle factory were killed and eight more are missing. It’s unclear how many others died in Mayfield.

Barry McDonald, a Mayfield City Councilmember, stood in the middle of the wreckage, his voice clouding with emotion as he describe the impact on the town of 10,000 on “Morning in America.”

“I can’t describe how this is looks and what the impact but we just got to come together and continue to start rebuilding,” said McDonald. “And the good thing is we’ve already seen utility poles going up. The water came on last night in certain parts of town. So that’s positive.”

Twisted sheet metal, downed power lines and wrecked vehicles lined the streets. Windows were blown out and roofs torn off the buildings that were still standing.

“It’s hard to describe,” McDonald said. “The devastation is a half-mile to a mile and a half wide path from one side of the city right through the other. The good thing is, we’re already trying to recover. And that’s the important thing.”

Authorities are still trying to determine the total number of dead, and the storms made door-to-door searches impossible in some places. “There are no doors,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

“We’re going to have over 1,000 homes that are gone, just gone,” he said.

In addition to the deaths in Kentucky, the tornadoes also killed at least six people in Illinois, where an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed and the governor said workers shielded residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.

“Now Mommy can’t go Christmas shopping.” Morrison said. “And it’s just it’s sad. But I think the thing is, you know, at least we have each other.”

You can watch the full interview with McDonald in the player below.

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