Kentucky Tornadoes: Candle Factory Survivors Speak Out, Hold Vigil

by Liz Holland
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A candle factory in Kentucky experienced devastation on Friday. During the catastrophic tornadoes, a Mayfield County factory that supplies candles to huge retailers collapsed, with over 100 workers inside. Employees say they could not leave in the hours before the storm. If they did, they might lose their job. However, a company spokesperson says that’s not true. 

8 employees did not survive. Many attended a vigil for the employees. One worker, Scarlett Sears said at the vigil, “It’s great for the ones that made it but heartbreaking for everything else, Mayfield, MCP, all of it, heartbreaking.” Scarlett added that she hasn’t seen her co-worker since Friday. Another factory employee, Haley Candor, says that after the initial storm siren, employees took shelter. However, about 30 minutes later they went back to work “like it was a regular day.”

Candle Factory Workers Inside Warehouse During the Storm

Candor shared her experience being inside the warehouse during the storm. “Some of us were just clueless,” she said. “Unless family called us and let us know … we had no idea it was coming for us at all.” Candor says employees took shelter once again when the storm hit around 9pm, and she was in a bathroom on impact. “I look up and the ceiling is just giving way, like it’s the ocean just coming toward me,” Candor explains. Rubble trapped Candor for about an hour after, she says.

Hundreds of people were in attendance at the vigil. Additionally, all employees are now accounted for. Five factory employees told NBC News that management said they would most likely be fired if they left. “If you leave, you’re more than likely to be fired”. This is what one employee, McKayla Emery overheard a manager say. Emery added, “I heard that with my own ears”. Another employee, Elijah Johnson had a similar experience. “I asked to leave, and they told me I’d be fired,” Johnson told NBC. Johnson added that even with the state of the weather, managers still told him his job is at risk.

Spokesperson Says Employees Were Free to Leave

However, Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products says the employees were not threatened with their jobs. Ferguson said of the claims, “Not true. That is absolutely not true. We followed our protocols exactly. Employees, if they decide they want to leave, they’re free to leave”. Ferguson also welcomed any investigation. “In such a catastrophic situation our regulators need to review these things,” he said. Kentucky governor Andy Beshear says that state investigators will examine the property.

Beshear said at a news conference that the investigation “shouldn’t suggest there was any wrongdoing.” Beshear continued, “But what it should give people confidence in is that we’ll get to the bottom of what happened.” The governor also said, “Everyone is expected to live up to certain standards of both the law, of safety and of being decent human beings. I hope everybody lived up to those standards.”

Outsider.com