During my 11 years at WYMT I have had the opportunity to be on the air when things have been calm, rough, and devastating. March 2nd, 2012 falls in a new category... catastrophic! Never before have I been on the air and had to report multiple deaths area-wide. Weather situations like this just don't happen around here... it's always possible... but it just normally doesn't happen. But the way these tornadoes developed and rolled through several counties was just amazing.
When the storm that dropped the tornado on West Liberty started to really develop I literally stopped and thought... "This just got really bad in a hurry," and I was right! It was far worse than I had ever imagined. The problem is... it can still get worse by the time the weekend comes to a close. It was something that I knew I would have to talk about one day... I just hoped it would never happen.
Not long after that warning we started tracking a storm coming out of Pulaski County and heading into Laurel County. This storm looked stout and sure enough it ripped though East Bernstadt and caused multiple fatalities in its wake.
I distinctly remember seeing another clear sign of significant danger in Johnson County when another cell, that looked like something out of a textbook, caused more destruction in Van Lear and Hager Hill. These are areas I traveled to a million times while growing up in that area.
Finally, the same storm that caused the damage in Johnson County had already laid a tornado on my hometown of Salyersville. I'm not biased by any means... but when this storm came rumbling over the place that I spent most of my life... I genuinely got scared. It has been a long time since a storm has scared me... but that one did! I mean... that's where my father lives! That's where my sister lives! That's the one place that I can go and everyone still calls me Jimmy Nele (pronounced Neil) And it's the one place in this world that I feel safe. So to see a storm like that curling towards that area was almost a little overwhelming. I just wanted to start calling people out by name and telling them that this was the real deal and they needed to get to a safe spot as fast as they possibly can.
Now... I hear of all the devastation there and I have a very uneasy feeling in my stomach. Home won't be the same will it? Then I thought... those people that I know and love so much will overcome! Just like the rest of this area will overcome.
It hit me... Salyersville is just the same as West Liberty or Van Lear or Hager Hill or East Bernstadt. The same people that I know so well live in every community in our region. Just a different face with a different name. These people I am referring to are the ones that won't let this incident set them back and they will make sure that these people recover. It's that person you know that will give the shirt right off of their back to make sure you don't have to do without. They are everywhere!
This has truly been one of the saddest days I can ever remember while doing weather. I have seen flooding all through our region. Memorial Day 2004, Mother's Day 2009, Pike County Flooding 2010, and so many others that I could list... These were truly sad days. But we avoided the widespread loss of life... this event hasn't even reached a final tally as of this post. I imagine it will continue to climb over the coming days.
From one end of our area to the other... let's keep one another in our thoughts and prayers through the difficult days a head.
God Bless you all.