Ky. resident recounts holding family members moments before tornado hit

Dawson Springs resident recalls moments before tornado hit
Dawson Springs resident recalls moments before tornado hit
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 7:49 PM EST
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DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WFIE) - One man in Dawson Springs says he is grateful to be here to tell his story after surviving a tornado that ripped through Western Kentucky.

“People have asked me what it was like to go through it and what it sounded like,” says survivor of the deadly storm, Bill Payne. “And I keep telling them, words can’t explain it, words can’t do it justice.”

“They told us their daughter’s fiancé and their oldest kid were sucked up in the tornado. They still haven’t found the two youngest ones,” Payne continued. “Knowing that you’re never going to see them again is just unreal.”

That’s one of the horror stories Payne told us.

Reliving Friday night? Payne’s reaction was incredibly raw.

“They said it was heading directly toward us so we all got into our laundry room over there with pillows, and blankets and everything,” he says.

Holding their breath, pillows and blankets providing the tiniest bit of comfort. Shielding a family from the piercing debris, and the devastating reality right outside their door.

“I had my rosary with me and I just started praying. Suddenly we heard, like a loud train. The more intense it got, the harder I prayed,” Payne recalled.

Payne says that’s when he and his family grabbed each other’s hands.

“The next thing I know it sounded like a bomb went off in the living room,” he says.

And what they saw next was indescribable.

“Afterwards I kind of looked around and saw the damage in here and walked outside and saw all the damage outside and, it looked like someone dropped a nuclear bomb,” he says.

What once made up their small, tight knit community, now scattered across miles.

“One of the main things I was praying about was if I lose everything, I don’t care. Just please let my family survive. I cannot replace my family or friends,” Payne says.

The skies have now cleared, the darkness gone, except every time Bill Payne takes a breath.

“The only word I can come up with is catastrophic,” Payne says.

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