LIBERTY, Ky. (AP) - After an EF-2 tornado left a
mile-and-a-half-long path of destruction through Casey County, a
skeleton crew of emergency responders and volunteers were still
on-scene a week later, working to clean up the mess left behind by
Josh Wethington, who is coordinating the emergency response
efforts, said 82 homes were either destroyed or damaged by the
tornado. Red Cross Disaster Coordinator Kerry Graul said the Red
Cross has a slightly different count of 69 homes affected,
including 28 destroyed and 14 suffering major damage.
Taylor County Rural Electric Manager Barry Myers said the
electric company has spent about $70,000 to $75,000 so far
repairing power lines and getting everyone in the area back on the
On Oct. 16, many houses in the area were sporting black and blue
tarps on their roofs and much of the rubble left from destroyed
homes had been hauled away in large dump trucks, though piles of
tree branches and debris still dotted the landscape in the small
community of Creston.
Casey Countian James Wesley was in Dallas with his parents when
the tornado blew through, but he made it back home, and was out in
the damaged area the following week.
Wesley is a local cook who brings his mobile grill to special
events, but he has been using it to cook lunch and dinner for
volunteers and residents in the affected area. He said he has
received donated food from IGA and several "silent, cheerful
While the cleanup efforts have made substantial progress, the
people affected will need more time to recover, Wesley said.
"You know the emptiness in their eyes," he said. "Some of
these folks have lost everything."
On a recent Friday morning, several construction workers were
repairing the roof of the Crockett Trail General Store, and
telephone company cherry-picker trucks were patrolling Ky. 70,
making repairs where needed. Other than that, the only major
cleanup presence in the area was a group of female inmates from the
Casey County Regional Jail.
Inmates from the jail have been volunteering to help with the
cleanup since the Saturday after the tornado hit Oct. 9. Deputy
Jailer Elizabeth Willoughby said in all, 37 female and 15 male
inmates have assisted in the area.
The six female inmates on the scene on a recent day were helping
distribute donated food to area residents. Willoughby said
Save-A-Lot, McDonald's and the Casey County Baptist Association are
among the groups that have donated food for people affected by the
Wethington said donated food and furniture have been gathering
in a semitrailer at the general store and at the Casey County
"The whole county has really been pulling together and helping
each other out," he said.
Graul said financial support for those affected is still needed,
and the Red Cross is accepting donations through its Lexington
office. The money donated goes toward client assistance credit
cards, which are disbursed to tornado victims so they can buy the
essential things they need.
"All the money that we use is donated dollars from the American
people," she said. "So the money that goes to the community is
from other people in the community."
If the Red Cross does not receive enough local donations, it can
draw from its disaster relief fund, but it's best when a community
can help itself, Graul said. Fortunately for those affected, a lack
of community support is not something they have to worry about, she
"Liberty seems to be a very community-minded place," she said.
"It's really going to help the recovery effort for the families
there that everyone wants to get involved and help."
Wesley said he understands that sense of community very well.
"I do what I do because I love these people," he said. "I'm a
Kentuckian. I'm a Casey Countian. That's why I do what I do. When
your neighbors need help, you go help them."
Information from: The Advocate-Messenger, http://www.amnews.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)