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UPDATE: Tornado causes damage

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By Calen McKinney

 

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Cleanup from Saturday's tornado is ongoing.

The EF1 tornado, with wind speeds of more than 100 mph, damaged businesses and homes and caused electrical outages.

No one was injured during the storm and the National Weather Service has reported that its path was 300 yards wide and about six miles long.

The tornado touched down along Old Greensburg Road, according to the weather service, just west of the intersection of U.S. 68 and KY 323, where it immediately destroyed small outbuildings. The tornado entered the city limits at KY 210.

Several trees were uprooted and buildings were damaged near the intersection of Hodgenville Road and Vintage Lane.

A more concentrated area of damage, the weather service reports, occurred as the tornado crossed Saloma Road and moved parallel to Upper Miller Park Road. Trees in the path of the tornado were torn down and rooftops were damaged.

The tornado then traveled near the intersection of Eastern Drive and East Lake Drive, according to the weather service. Its final damage was at the intersection of U.S. 68 and Palestine Road.

The tornado entered the county at 2.9 miles west of Campbellsville and left at 3.1 miles northeast of Campbellsville.

An EF1 tornado is categorized by the weather service as "weak" and having wind speeds of 86 to 110 mph. The tornado in Taylor County had wind speeds as high as 104 mph.

Nearby counties also suffered wind and water damage as a result of Saturday's storms. Chris Gray of Campbellsville drowned in Nelson County when the vehicle he was traveling in attempted to cross a bridge. See a separate story about Gray's death in this issue.

Ronnie Dooley, public information coordinator for Taylor County Emergency Management, said tornadoes in December aren't rare, but this time of year isn't the season for tornadoes. Saturday was the first day of the winter season.

Dooley said a tornado warning was issued Saturday at 10:53 p.m. The tornado came through the city at 11:07 p.m. The tornado left the area at 11:13 p.m.

"Very fast moving storm," he said.

The tornado touched down several times, Dooley said, very briefly. The last tornado in Taylor County was in 2007, he said, and it was an EF0.

Dooley said the majority of damage the tornado caused was in the form of uprooted trees. There was also light to moderate structural damage, he said.

Some businesses closed Sunday for repairs. Green River Cinema 6 and Fiesta Mexico suffered severe damages and, according to signs posted, were closed until further notice. At press time, Fiesta Mexico remained closed and an employee said more information about its re-opening will be posted on Facebook.

Camille Holt, general manager at the cinema, said the building suffered roof and water damage, as well as damage to its sign. Water came down some walls at the cinema, she said, and damaged some equipment.

The Christmas season is the cinema's second peak season of the year, she said, so she and staff members are working to get the business back up and running as soon as possible.

On Monday, Dec. 23, Holt said she planned to open the cinema that day to sell gift certificates and possibly have a few showings that evening. She said she hoped to have all theaters back open by Christmas Day. However, according to the theater's Facebook Page, it remains closed.

Holt said she and the other cinema workers are doing their best to open the doors again and appreciate all those who have offered support.

"Our community has been supportive," she said.

For updates about the cinema's openings, visit www.grc6.net.

Long John Silver's, Huddle House, Big Lots, Taylor County Bank and other local businesses saw damage.

Christmas lights at Miller Park were blown away and several trees in the area were uprooted. A scoreboard at Trace Creek Softball Park was damaged and trees in that area were uprooted. The roof on a shed at Upper Miller Park Drive was blown away.

Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said several ball fields, scoreboards, annex buildings and trees in Miller Park were damaged.

An insurance adjustor was in town on Monday, Young said, to begin the process of completing claims paperwork.

Young said he and several city workers were out Sunday morning to clear trees and other debris. Christmas lights that were damaged in Miller Park were also repaired.

Several power lines were damaged in the storm, Young said, and some were still being repaired as of Monday morning.

Young said some of the damage will be considered "major."

"So thankful that it didn't do any more," he said.

Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said the only damages reported outside the city limits were several uprooted trees.

Dooley said several residents were without electricity for a few hours late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

North Bypass to Central Avenue was closed for a few hours, Dooley said, to allow state Department of Highway workers to clear the roadway. The traffic lights in the area were repaired, he said. The Sharon Drive area was also closed for a while to allow for cleanup.

Dooley said, as far as he knows, Taylor County was the only to have seen a tornado during Saturday's storm. And, overall, he said, residents were lucky there wasn't more damage as a result of the tornado.

He said those who are signed up for the CodeRED weather alert system received a phone call telling them about the tornado warning.

Those who want to sign up for the CodeRED system can visit www.campbellsville.us or call the Campbellsville/Taylor County E-911 center at 465-8000.