Wisconsin woman relieved to hear Kentucky relatives safe after deadly storms

NOW: Wisconsin woman relieved to hear Kentucky relatives safe after deadly storms

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- We're hearing from local people who have family in the Mayfield, Kentucky area, and their family members who are volunteering there.

Imagine for a moment knowing a deadly storm is heading right where your family is, but they're nearly 500 miles away.

That was what Wisconsinite Jennifer McKelly faced Friday night after moving to the Greater Milwaukee area last summer.

"Honestly, they always tell us 'oh, it's going to [be a bad storm]', and it never happens." said McKelly's sister Julie Sims, who lives near Mayfield.

Sims said if you grow up where there's a lot of tornados, you know how it goes, the sirens go off and you don't think much of it.

That night, McKelly watched a storm chaser as the storm unfolded.

"That's when I started seeing that it was bad, that's when I knew the tornado had hit Mayfield, that's where my mom and my sister live," said McKelly.

Sims said this time, when the message went out to take cover, it was different.

"It said 'we're not joking guys,' and then of course I freaked out," said Sims, "Me and my mom with our little dog in the closet and I just sat there and kind of like prayed, is this really happening?"

"Needless to say, I was worried pretty much all night long, I don't think I slept until 3 o'clock the next morning," said McKelly.

Luckily, their family and friends are mostly okay.

McKelly said it's hard to see the place she grew up like this.

"It's unreal, like I don't recognize it," said McKelly.

But both McKelly and Sims said they recognize the Kentucky community, and the greater American community, coming together right now.

Sims said people from all around the country are coming to help, and truckloads of supplies are showing up daily.

She and many others are volunteering to distribute supplies.

Sims said while more help is needed, and the road ahead is long, they're thankful for all the support.

"You know a lot of times [people] act like we're so divided, [they say] this country is so divided and we don't like each other, but let me tell you something, the American spirit is alive and well in Mayfield, Kentucky," said Sims.

Mayfield officials have set up a more direct fund to help people there with a local bank, so local officials can have control over the funds faster.

You can find the tweet with more information on how to donate to that fund below:

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