Neighbors in Local Tornado-Struck Town Say They're Better Prepared

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UPDATE 5/21/13 @ 10 p.m.
SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Seeing the coverage of the devastation in Oklahoma brings back horrible memories for neighbors in Salyersville, Kentucky.

Johnny Lovely's son’s family is still rebuilding more than a year after a tornado destroyed their home.

They're now working on putting in a basement so in the future they'll have a place to take cover.

"The main purpose was to make it a little safer," Lovely said.

That tornado in March of 2012 destroyed more than a dozen businesses and left home after home demolished in the Magoffin County town.

The roof was blown off the middle school in Salyersville. It happened after school hours.

Magoffin County High School Principal Tony Skaggs says they've changed several procedures on how to watch for and handle severe weather.

He says they now communicate with county emergency management officials through radios, and they’ve increased the number of tornado drills.

"You feel so bad for those students at that elementary school (in Oklahoma),” Skaggs said. “That could have happened here."

Micca Patrick’s home was pushed off its foundation, and she was blown from one end of her house to the other.

Next time there's a hint of severe winds, Patrick will be getting in her parents' basement next door.

"You never think it'll hit you, but when it does, have a plan," Patrick said.

Signs of progress and rebuilding are evident in town. Several businesses that were rubble are now back open.

Their thoughts now are with those in Oklahoma just beginning the long road to recovery.

“I pray they all make it through this and pull together, and it takes everyone to help," Patrick said.

UPDATE 3/29/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- So many families are still recovering from the recent tornado and flood devastation. But the disasters also took a serious toll on many businesses throughout the region.

One of the hardest hit areas was what is called "restaurant row" in Salyersville, Ky.

More than a dozen businesses were torn apart by the early march tornado, putting a couple hundred people out of work.

The sounds and sights of recovery are scattered up and down Salyersville's restaurant row.

Right in the middle, the open for business First Community Bank.
That's where they set up a trailer office five days after the tornado hit.
The bank plans on re-opening June 1.

When the tornado ripped the roof off and the insides apart at the Salyersville McDonalds, 75 employees were without a job. But not for long. The business expects to reopen in three weeks.

While the rebuilding is underway, Bob Hutchinson, who owns McDonald's around the region, offered his tornado stricken employees temporary relocation work.

But away from the saws and hammers, the sounds of silence surround other restaurant row shops and residences. Where piles or roof rubble and crushed cars sit quietly like mangled monuments. There is no apparent timetable for recovery.

Magoffin County Judge-Executive Doc Hardin tells, all the tornado hit county judges got together on Thursday.

They worked on a long term housing plan for families with homes blown apart by the terrible twisters.

SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Teresa Poe was working at what used to be an Advance Auto Parts Friday evening when the weather turned ominous.

She and her co-worker took shelter in the store's bathroom.

"A few seconds later it just started, noise, shattering glass, parts flying everywhere,” she said. "It's horrible. I just can't believe I survived it."

That store was just one of about 15 businesses on a half mile stretch in Salyersville on Route 114 that was destroyed.

County officials say they're still assessing just how much damage they're dealing with. Dozens of homes suffered serious damage or were demolished.

Candy Thacker stuck out the storm in a bathtub.

"You felt the house lift up and lay back down,” she said. “I was scared to death. I was petrified."

The press box and scoreboard were knocked down at the high school football field, and the locker-room was destroyed.

Governor Steve Beshear toured the damage in Salyersville Saturday morning.

The National Guard is in town assisting with the aftermath.

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