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Tornado destroys dozens of homes in Milton, Kentucky

Milton resident Danielle Rowlett picked through belongings in a recreational vehicle she lived in before the tornado flipped it over and pushed it down an embankment.
Justin Hicks
Milton resident Danielle Rowlett picked through belongings in a recreational vehicle she lived in before the tornado flipped it over and pushed it down an embankment.

Dozens of homes were destroyed in the town of Milton, Kentucky, after a tornado hit Thursday afternoon.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency for multiple Kentucky counties hit by a tornado on Thursday, leaving 33 families to take shelter at a state park.

The National Weather Service says an EF-2 tornado with winds up to 115 miles per hour hit Trimble County, Kentucky, and then crossed the Ohio River into Jefferson County, Indiana.

The tornado was part of a system of damaging storms and tornadoes that swept through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio Thursday evening. The storms left at least three people dead in Ohio in a wake of destruction that spread across several states.

Kentucky officials say they know of two minor injuries and no deaths as of Friday. Kentucky Emergency Management said water was restored in Bedford and is available in Milton, though the pressure was low as of Friday evening.

Repair crews restored power to the area by Saturday morning, according to a map of power outages.

As many as 100 houses were damaged, and some of them were totally destroyed in Thursday's tornado, Trimble County Emergency Management Director Anderw Stark said.

“I guess Hanover, Indiana, got hit, it came down through Madison and then made like a 90 degree turn, went into Kentucky and kept on going into Vevay,” Stark said.

A main power transmission line was severely damaged and left most of the county without power on Friday. People in the city of Milton were also without water as the city fixed a major water leak.

“There were trees down and power lines and — you name it,” Stark said. “We had two people injured, they were in a car that got struck by debris… they are fine now.”

On Friday, residents picked through debris while emergency management officials spread out across the area, surveying damage and collecting information to support a federal disaster declaration.

Danielle Rowlett was trying to get into the recreational vehicle she lives in that was flipped onto its side by the storm.

“I wasn’t home luckily, my dog was but after the flip-flap or whatever, he got out and he ran to my store,” Rowlett said. “I’m just trying to see what I can salvage and go on. I’m thankful that I wasn’t home because I don’t know if I would have made it or not, really.”

Milton resident Gary Bright was erecting tents in a yard overlooking the Ohio River on Friday after he and other families in a building he lived in were displaced by a tornado.
Justin Hicks
Milton resident Gary Bright was erecting tents in a yard overlooking the Ohio River on Friday after he and other families in a building he lived in were displaced by a tornado.

Just a short walk away, Gary Bright was erecting multiple tents for his family and his neighbors. He and his brother live in a building with multiple apartments. They were watching TV when the tornado hit.

“The TV went blank and then all of a sudden the building [jolted] and we saw the split in the ceiling,” Bright said. “Once the tornado passed by we went outside and this place was a wreck.”

Stark, the county emergency manager, said he appreciates the outpouring of help that’s already arrived. However, they don’t want donations of items right now. For monetary donations, he says Bedford Bank has set up a fund.

“If you want to volunteer, we don’t know when that’s going to be yet,” he said, adding that it depends on when power can get restored.

Stark says the county is already working with the state of Kentucky to request the federal government make a disaster declaration.

If that happens, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be activated to help fund recovery projects like debris removal and assistance for survivors. Stark said based on the damage he’s seen, he fully expects a disaster will be formally declared by the federal government in coming days.

This story has been updated with new information.

Justin is LPM's Data Reporter. Email Justin at jhicks@lpm.org.
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