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March 7, 2012

Tornado outbreaks strike Kentucky twice

McCreary escapes storms with little damage

WHITLEY CITY —  The heavy thunderstorms which rolled through Kentucky Wednesday were just a prelude to the destruction brought on Friday evening.

    In both instances, McCreary County dodged the proverbial bullet.

    On Wednesday, a lightning strike damaged at least one Stearns home and a possible funnel cloud was spotted in the Marshes Siding community. Hail measured nearly an inch. By approximately 4 p.m., the thunderstorm took out some trees at Cumberland Falls. But the most damaging tornadoes stayed north of McCreary as the system moved across the commonwealth.

    The National Weather Service confirmed 11 tornadoes touched down in Kentucky on Wednesday: two in LaRue County, two in Muhlenberg County, and one each in Hardin, Henderson, McCracken, Morgan, Pulaski, Russell and Grayson counties. Several counties in western and central Kentucky reported injuries from the storm, including one critical injury, although no deaths have been attributed to the weather.

    After a gorgeous day Thursday, officials were again warning of severe weather Friday. McCreary County Schools took no chances and canceled classes while several other area schools and businesses opted to close early in the afternoon.

    Governor Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency to allow local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in public safety and recovery efforts.

    The string of violent storms killed at least 39 from Alabama to Ohio with Kentucky suffering the greatest loss of life at 21. Five of those fatalities occurred in nearby Laurel County. Some 300 Kentuckians were injured. Nearly 22,000 were left without power in the storm system’s wake.

    Kentucky Emergency Management reported 13 tornadoes touched down Friday across the state.

    Again, McCreary County emerged with just light damage.

On Saturday, Congressman Hal Rogers commended emergency personnel and volunteers in addition to offering his prayers. “The people of Southern and Eastern Kentucky are always resilient, and now it is time to pray and band together once more,” Rogers stated.

    Governor Beshear toured the hardest-hit communities and signed an executive order to prevent price-gouging. He has deployed more than 385 National Guard troops to assist with storm-related damages.

    “The scope and magnitude of devastation in some of our communities is unlike anything I have ever seen,” said Gov. Beshear.  “I’ve been in close contact with President Obama since Thursday to ensure we will have the resources our families will need to recover from these storms.”

    Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson assessed damage in the community of East Bernstadt in Laurel County with Sen. Tom Jenson.

    McCreary County EM/911 Director Rudy Young told the Record that all first responders are on standby with McCreary County agencies expected to be called out at any time.

    South Kentucky RECC has also sent crews to help.

    The American Red Cross has launched the Kentucky Cares Campaign to assist those affected by last week’s storms. Visit www.redcross.org to learn more.

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