NEW INFO: Clean-up Begins After West Liberty Tornado

By: Randy Yohe, Andrew Colegrove; The Associated Press, Email
By: Randy Yohe, Andrew Colegrove; The Associated Press, Email

UPDATE 3/1/12 @ 5:45 p.m.
MORGAN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The national weather service says a category EF 2 tornado hit West Liberty Wednesday afternoon with 120 mile an hour winds.

The destruction was severe and Thursday's clean-up was much more about the people affected, then places hit.

Betty Stamper and Olivet Gamble are two of the dozens who rented space at the 460 Flea Market

They said any profits made at the always busy but now blown away business did much more than supplement many minimal fixed incomes.

“Many here depended on this place to make a living to buy food and stuff,” Olivet Gamble said.

After spending $70 thousand on remodeling the old BJ's Quik Stop, new owner Mohammed Afzal was just six days from opening the new Liberty Mart. An opening that is now indefinitely delayed.

“As you can see we have a lot of damage, It will be much work to rebuild, but we will re-open, of course," Afzal said.

What they are most thankful for here is where the tornado did not hit.
Three football fields away, 200 scared grade schoolers were sheltering in place at Morgan Central Elementary.

And after helping so many others for so many years at the Woodmen Of The World Lodge 722 tornado ravaged members now could use some help themselves.

“We're devastated and we don't know how long it will take to rebuild and re-coop,” member Patty Hutchinson aid.

The goal now is to raise from the rubble, rebuild and re-coop from the storm.

A state of emergency was declared in Morgan County.
Now, they are waiting on a federal assessment team to see if they qualify for FEMA money and help.

UPDATE 3/1/12 @ 12:05 a.m.
MORGAN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- People say after seeing just how large the scale of damage was in parts of Morgan County, it's a miracle no one was seriously hurt or killed.

A severe storm moved in about 2 p.m. Wednesday and destroyed several businesses in the town of West Liberty.

The Morgan County Judge Executive says the county remained under a state of emergency through Wednesday night.

Angie Stacy was working at her carpet store when the severe weather hit.

"There were sheets of rain, and then it just came around in a big circle all around us," Stacy said. "It was swirling around us. We took off running. The glass came in behind us, shattered everywhere."

Friends and family are helping Brent Davis clean up after the powerful winds took down his barn and damaged his cars and house near Route 191.

"It started raining, and it went from a few sprinkles to within 30 seconds, an incredible wind, the typical train-like sound everyone describes," Davis said. "The house shook, the barn was gone, and it was all over."

The former Grace Baptist Church was completely destroyed. The congregation had moved into a new building a few years ago. The pastor says this structure had been standing since the 1850s.

UPDATE 2/29/12 @ 3:50 p.m.
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) - A violent system of storms that's left at least 9 nine dead in the Midwest is pounding its way through Kentucky.

State police say the storms have been doing damage from Paducah in the west across the north-central part of the state, but so far they've had no reports of injuries or deaths.

Several buildings have been destroyed while powerful winds have torn roofs off homes, apartments and businesses. The owner of a trucking company says the storm picked up an entire building on his property.

Police in Elizabethtown, about 45 miles southwest of Louisville, have been going door, checking on residents. They are also coming across downed power lines and flash flooding that's closed several local roads.

The National Weather Service says it's investigating reports of tornadoes and funnel clouds. Tornado watches and warnings continue as the storm moves eastward.

ORIGINAL STORY 2/29/12 @ 1:24 p.m.
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - At least nine people are dead in Illinois and Missouri after a powerful storm system lashed the Midwest early today. There were multiple reports of tornadoes.

The storms caused a lot of damage in the country music resort city of Branson, Mo., and laid waste to small towns in Illinois in Kansas.

An apparent twister rolled through Branson just before 1 a.m., and seemed to hopscotch up the city's main roadway. It took roofs off hotels and damaged some music theaters. More than 30 people were reported hurt, mostly with cuts and bruises.

The owner of a Branson diner says a theater next door "kind of exploded" and "went everywhere." He says hotels on both sides lost their roofs. John Moore says damage must be in the millions.

At least six people were killed in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg after a storm leveled much of the community. Authorities had earlier reported ten deaths in the town.

From last night into this morning, at least 16 tornado sightings were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky.

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