Loved ones struggle to contact those missing in West Liberty

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

Many tornado ravaged communities shifted their focus Sunday from rescue to recovery. In West Liberty survivors went home to survey the destruction and see if they could salvage anything.

When the tornado came over the ridge, Billy Nickell and his wife only had seconds to get to their basement. The Nickells are afraid to go back down into the room that saved their lives, but above they try to take what they can. "Thought about clothes first and just going through items that's got a lot of sentimental value," Nickell said as he walked through the remains of his home.

Despite the wreckage, Nickell counts his blessings when he looks around his neighborhood. "Tornadoes, they defy logic," Nickell said, "and for some reason our house wasn't as bad as one over here. You know how it is, they just defy logic."

It's those who have not surfaced to inspect their homes who worry Shawn Clevenger. He's been trying to reach family and friends without success. "We just haven't been able to get ahold of them," Clevenger said, "but there is some people they say they ain't been able to find."

With phone lines down Clevenger says there's only one option. "Word of mouth. The old way. You have to
talk to one person that knows another person, another person and filter through that. You can't depend on the satellite. You can't depend on electric. You know, I know they're doing all they can, but when the grid goes down, you have to rely on people. It's the only way you can do it."

Among the survivors, you won't see tears for lost possessions. They know how lucky they are. "We're just glad to be alive and not hurt," Nickell said, "All this stuff, it might affect you to lose it... it just doesn't register. It doesn't matter."

Despite the damage local officials say several businesses will reopen on Monday as they struggle to bring
life back to normal.

As the recovery process begins WKYT is learning of more tornado-related deaths. Officials confirmed a seventh death Sunday in Morgan County. The number of Kentuckians killed now stands at more than twenty.

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