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Utah Latter-day Saint missionary survives Kentucky tornado

A water tower for the town is seen destroyed in the aftermath of a tornado at sunrise in Mayfield, Kentucky, Monday. A Utahn was serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mayfield when the tornado ripped through town. (Adrees Latif, Reuters )



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SANDY — The devastation in Kentucky has hit home for at least one Utah family, whose daughter was serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when a massive tornado ripped through Mayfield, Kentucky.

Sister June Ferre, of Sandy, and her companion, Sister Erica Stewart-Madrueno, are the only missionaries in Mayfield. June Ferre was transferred to the area the day before the tornado hit. With wind speeds reaching upwards of 140 mph, it devastated the town.

Kentucky was the worst hit by far in the cluster of twisters across several states, remarkable because they came at a time of year when cold weather normally limits tornadoes. They left at least eight people dead at the state's Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory and another 12 were reported killed in and around Bowling Green. At least another 14 people died in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed at least 64 deaths on Monday.

"She was actually assigned originally to Montevideo, Uruguay," said Aimee Ferre, June's mother.

Amiee Ferre said her daughter is having the time of her life serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints even with an unexpected twist of events — a temporary reassignment in the Nashville Tennessee Mission.

"She loves Tennessee. She has absolutely loved it there," Amiee Ferre said.

June Ferre was in Nashville until last week, when she was transferred to the other side of her mission — a place called Mayfield, Kentucky.

"When she called me she said, 'Mom it's way out in the middle of nowhere. It's in Kentucky,'" Aimee Ferre said.

She had no idea the small city would soon dominate headlines.

"And literally the next day was when the tornado went through," Aimee Ferre said.

She said the missionaries narrowly missed being in the tornado's path of destruction.

Sister June Ferre and her companion Sister Erica Stewart-Madrueno, after a tornado ripped through the area they were assigned to serve in as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sister June Ferre and her companion Sister Erica Stewart-Madrueno, after a tornado ripped through the area they were assigned to serve in as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Photo: Family photo)

Late Friday night, they said a member of their congregation knocked on their door and invited them to take shelter in the basement of his home with his family.

"Her apartment was 2 miles from the candle factory that they're talking about that was … that collapsed," Aimee Ferre said. "I can't even imagine when I see the pictures on the news. It's overwhelming to look at and realize that June is there."

June Ferre filmed a video as they made their way through town Saturday morning.

"She couldn't really identify where they were because everything was just gone," Aimee Ferre said.

The two missionaries were without power and running water Sunday, but Aimee Ferre said they're in good spirits and already helping with clean-up efforts.

"Then she went on to say, 'It's going to be a Christmas to remember. A very special one,' " Aimee Ferre said.

The two missionaries are currently staying in a nearby town. Everyone in their congregation is accounted for, but Aimee Ferre said they could use prayers and support.

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Garna Mejia

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