Andrea Miranda, who survived the massive tornado that tore through Kentucky on Friday.

'I thought I was going to die': Kentucky candle factory worker describes tornado that leveled site

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Andrea Miranda, a 21-year-old candle factory worker who survived the massive tornado that tore through Kentucky on Friday, joined MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart to describe the terrifying moment when the building shifted from under her. Miranda, who moved from Puerto Rico to Mayfield to work two years ago, said she thought she was going to lose her life.

“What I remember is when the building moved left, right, and boom. That’s what I heard,” she says in the video. Miranda said that she was hugging her supervisor when she felt the entire wall fall on top of them. “I was stuck there for two hours, not able to breathe,” she continued. “I thought I was going to die.”

NBC News reported Monday that more than 70 have been confirmed dead in the state, including at least eight workers at the factory. Miranda is alive, but through sobs told Díaz-Balart that she lost everything she’s worked so hard for since arriving in Kentucky at 19. “My car and my house, it was the only thing I have,” Miranda said.

“Now everything is gone, everything is gone,” she continued. “I don’t got my car so I can get another job, move to another place. No place to stay. Everything is gone.” She said all her family is in Puerto Rico, and a coworker who had become a friend tragically was among those killed at the factory. “I came here at 19 years, I’m 21, and I have been working so hard, and now everything is gone. I don’t know, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.”

A compassionate Díaz-Balart offered words of encouragement to Miranda, saying in Spanish that the people of Puerto Rico are “extraordinary.” Díaz-Balart also stressed the vital roles Latinos play in Kentucky, “from Puerto Rico, from Guatemala, from Honduras, from Mexico, from the Dominican Republic, and they have working here, and they have been participating, and supporting this economy.”

“According to the 2020 census, 4.6 percent of the state's population is Hispanic, a 56.5 percent increase since 2010,” NBC News reported. “In Graves County, where Mayfield was located, they account for 7.6 percent of the total population. Many, like Miranda, work in factory and construction jobs.” Management for the candle factory, Mayfield Consumer Products, is now under scrutiny for reportedly not allowing workers to leave their posts as the tornado approached.

Díaz-Balart spoke to another Latino family that survived the tornado by hiding in their bathroom. “I was thinking that we weren’t going to make it,” a young girl told him.

President Joe Biden has issued a disaster declaration, which opens up important emergency aid for affected residents. He’s expected to visit the region on Wednesday.

Díaz-Balart during the interview with Miranda pointed to Latino families that will need relief but won’t know how to access it. Relatedly, WFPL reported that educators and school officials in the region say there’s an urgent need for translators to help connect Spanish-speaking families with resources.

McCracken County Schools teacher Maribel Phelps “said having more translators at resource distribution centers can help prevent miscommunications and also help bridge cultural differences with potentially some Latino families more hesitant to ask for help,” the report said. “I think that’s just what it comes down to,” she told WFPL. “You have to serve the needs of all people.”

Also arriving to Kentucky last weekend was chef and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, who said in a video that the organization had “teams all over, scouting and bringing meals, and learning what the folks may need. Trying to provide meals to those who need it every single day.”

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Written by Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos staff. Cross-posted from Daily Kos.

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