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'The whole house is gone', Saloma tornado survivors recount first glimpses of damage

In rural Taylor County, Kentucky near the small town of Saloma, residents save what little possessions weren't destroyed from a tornado.

TAYLOR COUNTY, Ky. — Homes flattened, trees stripped, cars tossed, and life lost. 

In rural Taylor County, Kentucky near the small town of Saloma, residents save what little possessions weren't destroyed from a tornado in the early morning hours of December 11th.

Amanda Dye was alone when the EF-3 tornado leveled her home of 9 years. She'd decided to spend the evening in the basement knowing severe weather was expected. She got the alert a tornado was coming and rushed to take cover.

"Shortly after I get under the stairs, all of a sudden the basement door from the outside just *whoosh* blew into the basement," said Dye.

It only took seconds to wreak havoc. Dye said the sound was deafening. 

At one point she felt water falling on her. She quickly realized where it was coming from after stepping out from the basement. She called her husband to tell him what happened, shocked at what wasn't there.

"Oh my gosh, the whole house is gone," Dye said. "I didn't see the car, I didn't see the carport, everywhere I looked there was nothing."

It's a similar story for many in Saloma whose homes were destroyed. 

Down the road, Karen Sanders had seconds to react to her phone's weather alert, crouching in front of a recliner as she covered her head while her mother took shelter in a bedroom. 

Both survived without injury but their home, built-in 1825 and in the family for 8 generations, is beyond repair.

Saloma's greatest loss suffered was inside a mobile home, whose resident never made it out. 

Her landlord, who didn't want to be identified, says he never felt so helpless. The mobile home was across a creek that couldn't be crossed because of downed powerlines and high water from heavy rain.

Days later, the feeling of defeat for many is turning into hope. For Dye, the generosity from strangers has given her strength.

"We had a gentleman just walk up to us in the yard yesterday and ask, 'are you the homeowners?' My husband said yes and he handed him $200, we don't even know this man."

Small gestures like this from locals and help pouring in from people across the state are giving this community who has lost so much a little hope.

If you'd like to do something for the people in Kentucky affected by the tornadoes, there are plenty of ways you can help.

How to help Western Kentucky families

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