MAYFIELD, Ky. / VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After living through one of the most devastating tornadoes to hit Western Kentucky, Sara Smith said it’s an experience she hopes to never relive.

Smith formerly of Vincennes, lives in Mayfield with her husband and children. On Friday, December 10, she said she was taking the reports warning of a potential severe weather threat seriously.

“I made it home from a swim meet at 8:30 in time. My husband’s parents called said you need to get ready. About 9 o’clock we start hearing stuff, it was loud. Our whole house shook. My husband stood over us,” She added.

A powerful EF-4 tornado that claimed dozens of lives in the Blue Grass State missed the Smith’s home.

“When I started seeing pictures of the devastation, I just knew God protected us because we were not hit. We wouldn’t be standing here,” Smith said.

Outside of Mayfield’s courthouse, a wall decorated in pictures, flowers and scripture, honor the lives lost since that storm. It serves as a reminder of how quickly life changed for the community.

“This hits close to home, it could have been us,” Smith said, as she looked at the memorial.

As parts of the city are unrecognizable and piles of debris stand where buildings once were, Sara says faith is crucial in these times.

“We’re thankful for the immediate needs that are being met. But, people are going to need prayers and needs long after this,” She stated.

Sharing that faith are the hundreds of volunteers lining the streets to help anyway they can.

Randy McWilson and others from Southeast Missouri have visited the area three times helping with housing assistance, roofing and food distribution.

Their shelter? A tent.

“The thing I’ve noticed without exception is I’ve never seen people so grateful and thankful in my life. Everyone, I don’t care what we do, they just say thank you for being here,” McWilson said.

On Monday, December 20, crew members were cooking and giving out hamburgers, hot dogs and water. McWilson added that they had encountered people from Arkansas, Illinois and other states all just wanting to help.

Both volunteers and Mayfield residents hope the devastation will turn to a more promising future.

“One moment here, it’s so overwhelming. You feel like you could write a book after one minute on the ground after seeing what’s been done. Seeing people come together and seeing the community come together, people from all over the Midwest have come in to share the burden and try to ease the suffering a bit. Even though it’s horrific, it’s incredibly hopeful,” he added.