UPDATE: NWS says straight line winds caused damage in Evarts

By: Tanner Hesterberg, Angela Sparkman Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg, Angela Sparkman Email
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EVARTS, Ky. (WYMT) - 4/29/14
By Angela Sparkman

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service believe straight line winds, not a tornado, caused the storm damage in Evarts in Harlan County on Monday.

On Tuesday, National Weather Service officials spent several hours surveying and photographing the damage in Evarts. They believe straight line winds caused the destruction but say it reached wind speeds of 90 miles per hour.

Workers and customers at the Marathon station say they did not know what it was, but it was enough to blow out the windows and send them running for cover.

"I thought it was going to take the door off when people were running in. Oh gosh, it was scary. I've never been in anything like that before," said Vikki Farley.

National Weather Service officials who toured the damage say even though it was straight line winds, not a tornado, the damage is just as bad.

"90 mile an hour winds can snap a large tree trunk and snap it like a toothpick, and you saw the damage it did. It took the roof off a restaurant. It took the roof off the canopy here at the gas station, so pretty impressive," said Edwards.

"It was over fast. It came fast and left fast, so whew. It was just good nobody was hurt," said Farley.

The NWS also toured damage in the Ages community and believes that was also caused by straight line winds.

By Tanner Hesterberg

Strong storms damaged homes and businesses in the Harlan County city of Evarts Monday afternoon.

Winds ripped the roof off the Dairy Hut and blew a hole in the side of the Marathon gas station. Both businesses are located in downtown Evarts and are owned by Randy Brackett.

"I'd say (Dairy Hut) is going to have to be rebuilt," Brackett said. "And I'm figuring $15-20 thousand over here (at the Marathon) by the time it's said and done."

"It's just part of life. But we'll make it. We're Harlan Countians."

Brittany Couch works at the gas station and was inside when the storm hit.

"The lights started flickering and we could see that it was raining really hard," Couch said. "But I didn't think that the wind was as bad as it was. Suddenly the roof off the gas pump stand just kind of blew over and crushed the building."

Winds also damaged several houses, including the home of Evarts mayor Eddie Manning.

"One good thing about Evarts is we're a real tight-knit community," Manning said. "Most people are already out helping their neighbors before they even assess their own damage.'

No injuries were reported in Harlan County because of the storm.

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