West Liberty sees signs of progress

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

Some signs of hope emerged Monday night out of areas of eastern and southern Kentucky devastated by a deadly tornado outbreak.

The day began with another setback when snow blanketed storm-damaged West Liberty. At least 22 people in Kentucky died in Friday's tornadoes, but Monday night saw stories of progress, survival, and hope.

"At least we have our lives," Mary Howard said, "and we do have a home. I have two sons that have nothing."

Howard and Roy Cantrell are determined to save their West Liberty home. Amid houses ripped apart by the tornado, the damage they sustained is something they're convinced they can repair. "They said they'd probably have the electric on
through here about four hours from now," Cantrell said after re-posting the pole for his electric meter, "I mean from here to the hospital."

Steve Gavalchik runs the Morgan County hospital that never shut down even in the immediate aftermath of the storm when the facility was struggling to stay open to patients. "Since then we've had a new roof replaced on the front section of the hospital you see here," Gavalchik said pointing out the progress, "we've re-established operations in our primary care clinic. We have a functioning laboratory now. Diagnostic imaging is operational."

The improvements come just in time for a new wave of patients with puncture wounds and lacerations from the cleanup work that keeps those like Roy Cantrell busy. "Then you get aggravated too, you know what I'm
saying, but you got to get over it," Cantrell said.

"I think after it's all said and done," Howard added, "we can repair it and go on with our lives. I mean, you have to."

Other public institutions also reported successes. State officials said Monday night the tornado did not damage the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex near West Liberty, but the prison is now operating on generators, and inmates are safe and secure.

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