Wednesday, March 08, 2017 - Updated: 10:24 AM
Tammy Thomas had only just fallen asleep last Tuesday when she heard a roaring wind rolling up through the hollows of Donaldson Creek Road. It wasn't until the terror was nearly on top of them that she realized what was coming their way.
"Then all the sudden Ã¢ Â¦ it was extremely loud and it sounded like a train," Thomas said. "So I hollered, 'Oh my, a tornado!' So we took cover. And then it was quiet, and then there was large hail. We come outside when it was all said and done, and we realized we didn't have porch posts. So, it was very scary."
The Thomas family were among those hit hardest by Tuesday's EF-1 tornado in Trigg County, but fortunately for them, remained physically unharmed. The Thomases, like many families in Trigg County, suffered property damage during the event. The storm pushed the wall of the family's detached garage in, took out posts supporting the structure and the home's porch, toppled a playground set and damaged a barn on the property. Still with no injuries, Thomas said it was a blessing.
"We're thankful," she said. "We're blessed there. Ã¢ Â¦ It could have been a whole lot worse."
It was a scene National Weather Service surveyors saw plenty of in the days since the event, with storms tearing throughout the midwest and spawning multiple tornadoes. NWS surveyors on Friday confirmed the event on Donaldson Creek Road an EF-1 tornado with estimated wind speeds up to 110 mph. The twister started in the area of Randolph Road and was on the ground for at least eight miles. At its widest point, NWS surveyors said, the tornado measured about 400 yards -- 1,200 feet -- across.
The tornado was the second to strike Trigg County in the span of a month. An EF-0 tornado -- which carries winds up to 85 mph -- was confirmed to have touched down Feb. 7 on Rockcastle Road.
Trigg County Emergency Management Director David Bryant said the worst damage was localized to a section of Old Dover Road, near where the tornado touched down. Bryant said crews began clearing debris from roadways once the system had passed early Wednesday morning. By that afternoon, all roads had reopened but Old Dover Road; Trigg County Road Department crews managed to clear the remaining debris and open the road on Thursday.
"That was by far the worst of the damage," Bryant said. "Ã¢ Â¦ There's wind damage to roofs and trees, powerlines scattered (throughout the county). There was a boat here in town that was turned over, which was minor, some windows blown out. Not a lot of damage in town. Ã¢ Â¦ (Wednesday) morning about 5:15 we had 70-80 mph straight line winds come through."
Still, Bryant said most of the damage was limited to trees and powerlines. Response to which emergency crews have down to a science.
Brent Gilkey, vice president of operations for Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative, said Tuesday's storms had left about 4,000 residents of the nine-county PRECC area without power from 80 different outages. As of Wednesday afternoon, that number had fallen to about 904 residents, 694 of which Trigg County citizens. Gilkey said while those in the Donaldson Creek area had been without since the tornado had rolled through about 11 p.m. Tuesday, the vast majority of those outages were the result of the secondary system the following morning.
PRECC crews had returned power to most remaining areas by Thursday morning. Gilkey said crews were out replacing damaged poles, digging with a track machine in some instances to reset lines. PRECC worked to remain in contact with residents through TV, social media and radio as well, he said, to keep them informed of progress throughout the event. While the overall goal was to return electricity to residents, crew safety was also a concern.
"Some of our folks were out all night working and all day (Wednesday)," Gilkey said. "We try to get them in and rested so they can work safely."
Despite damage to the region and hours accumulated among county and city employees in response, Trigg County Judge-Executive Hollis Alexander said reimbursement through federal funds was unlikely.
"At this time I don't feel like it's going to lend any aid," Alexander said. "Ã¢ Â¦ The major damage to the county would be the timber damage, and I don't know that there's any assistance for that. We had no loss of life, and that's a blessing. We did have some damage to homes and farms, but I don't think we'll meet the threshhold there."
Total damage estimates to property during last week's weather event were unavailable as of press time Tuesday.