Graves county commissioner Todd Hayden told CNN's Pamela Brown the harrowing scenes at the candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky when he arrived to help search for survivors on Friday night.
The Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory -- one of the most devastated sites in the tornado outbreak -- collapsed when a tornado tore through it at around 9.30 p.m.
About 110 people were working inside at the time and dozens are feared dead.
"You can't believe your eyes how bad it has. When i pulled up, it was pitch dark. There's no electricity," Hayden said on CNN Newsroom.
"When you first walked up on it, it was nothing but a pile of rubble. You wondered how anybody could still be alive in there."
First responders rushed to the site from the counties all around. They set up lights, and people trapped inside the debris began calling for help and telling rescuers their location, Hayden said.
Many rescuers climbed inside to find survivors, while Hayden and others stayed on the outside to help people climb out of the rubble. Saws and cutting tools were sent in to cut wires and bars.
"Seeing people come out of that pile of rubble alive was amazing. You wondered how -- where they had been, and how -- they just emerged all of a sudden out of somewhere, out of a hole," Hayden said.
"We probably rescued 10 to 20 people that came out of there. Some of them have broken ankles, one had a back injury. A lot of them were walking out kind of stunned or just in shock," he said.
Some came out crying, going straight to their families waiting anxiously outside and falling into their arms. One lady was dancing, happy to be out of there, Hayden said.
"How they came out of that alive was unbelievable. It warmed your heart, but at the same time, it was total decimation."
Rescue and support efforts continued into Saturday. Hayden helped set up a shelter down the road in town, and people brought in water, food, toiletries and other supplies. "We have piles of piles of it now," he said.