Bremen survivor recalls night of deadly Dec. 10 tornado
‘I truly know I was one minute, four seconds from death’
BREMEN, Ky. (WFIE) - Kathy Perry was driving home on Dec. 10, 2021, not knowing a tornado was on the way when her neighbor called.
She could hear the urgency in his voice.
“By the grace of God, my neighbor called me and said you have less than five minutes to get to my house, there’s a killer tornado on the ground,” Perry said.
She grabbed her golden retriever and took off for safety.
“I arrived at his house in one minute and four seconds, and the tornado was already upon us,” Perry said.
She didn’t even make it inside. The tornado came so fast that she rode out the storm underneath her neighbor’s two-ton truck.
“There’s not many people that can say that they know that they were that far from death, or that close to death,” Perry said. “I truly know I was one minute, four seconds from death.”
The monster of a storm then moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere in western Kentucky. The people who lived on Bethlehem Cemetery Lane in Bremen knew help would take a while, so they took off to help one another.
“It’s pitch black, it’s midnight, and we all went out searching for neighbors,” Perry said.
When night turned to day, Perry says the scenes of destruction were indescribable.
“We were all in shock, everything was leveled, there was nothing here, it was just barren,” Perry said. “There are just no words to describe it, it was just a warzone.”
Remnants from the path of the EF-4 tornado came to rest on pieces of Perry’s home.
“I had two vehicles floating in the pool that were not mine,” Perry said. “This area here, this is actually where the house was. As you can see, there’s no remnants of the house at all.”
Perry’s home was turned to rubble, and her front lawn was ripped up. She needed to order dirt to refill the gaping hole left in front of what used to be her house.
“There wasn’t anything for me to retrieve or salvage, because it was all gone,” Perry said.
Nearly one year later, Perry is living in the same camper that she did when she first began rebuilding her home. She’s faced challenges, including temperature drops and freezing water, but nothing is harder than the people she lost on that night.
Two of those lost to the storms were her neighbors.
“It’s the loss of life we’ll never get over, but those people will always be remembered and cherished,” Perry said.
While Perry’s home still has a long way to go, her spirit remains strong. That spirit resonates among the rest of those in the town of Bremen, and of those in the heart of western Kentucky.
“Everyone is hopeful and we’re going to be a community again, a strong community again,” Perry said. “Kentucky strong, Bremen strong and faith strong.”
Perry says pieces of her home were found in faraway cities, including Louisville, Cincinnati, and Albany, Indiana.
The most important pieces of her home were two things: Her late husband’s service badges and his burial flag, from his time serving as a policeman.
She said that those personal items were the only two recovered at the scene of her home, just across the street.
The flag was restored by a local veteran, who rebuilt the case it came in from the remaining floorboards that were left in Perry’s home.
Perry said the love and support of the community have brought them all “out of the darkness, and into the light.”
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