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Officials: 90-100 mph winds to blame for Estill Co. damage

Damage along Drowning Creek Ridge in Estill County.
Damage along Drowning Creek Ridge in Estill County.(WKYT)
Published: Mar. 1, 2017 at 11:55 AM EST
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The National Weather Service now says straight-line winds between 90 and 100 miles per hour were responsible for significant damage Wednesday in Estill County.

At least 20 houses were destroyed and 75 others damaged, Estill Co. Emergency Management officials said. Two people suffered injuries during the storm, but those injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.

Four homes on Cantrill Street in Irvine suffered damage. Winds knocked down trees and in some cases peeled roofs off of homes.

The storm also leveled a car wash on River Drive in Ravenna.

Along Drowning Creek Ridge, strong winds ripped the roof off a home, flipped a car, uprooted trees and flattened several garages, barns or out-buildings.

From their home up on the ridge, Betty Rose and her husband, Troy, saw the storm coming against the horizon, but by then it was almost too late.

"I looked out and saw the white wall coming," Betty Rose told WKYT's Garrett Wymer. "And I said, 'It's time to hit the basement, people.' So the people that we had with us, we all started to the basement. Troy said, 'Well, I better close the front door,' because it was open. And I got on the second step going down to the basement and the wind pulled me back out."

Rose said the strength of the wind threw her husband against the wall. A large hole above the baseboard shows where his head hit it. Daylight streams through cracks at the top of the walls where the storm ripped the roof off of their home.

At one point, as many as 1,800 homes in the county were without electricity. By 9:30 p.m. that number was down to 726, although emergency management officials said it still could be several days before power is restored to everyone.

Estill County Schools are closed the rest of the week because of the damage.

A shelter is open at Estill Springs Elementary for people who need a place to stay. Officials said four people were staying at the shelter Wednesday night.

A donation drop-off center will open at 10 a.m. Thursday at Christian Worship Center, located at 105 Broadway Street in Irvine. County leaders are requesting donations of toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper), cleaning supplies (gloves, Clorox, mops, brooms, rakes), bottled water and snack foods (peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers, PopTarts).

County leaders have asked folks not to bring clothing to donate. They say Helping Hands Ministry has plenty of clothes if they are needed.

Emergency managers said they will begin official damage assessments and clean-up efforts on Thursday.