|By Dennis Brown
A tornado swept
through Lewis and Mason counties Saturday afternoon, leveling homes and sending at least
20 people to the hospital.
A team visited the area on Monday and preliminarily rated the tornado as F2, with winds
estimated at 113-157 mph. A flyover was scheduled for Tuesday.
"There's no doubt in my mind: it was definitely a tornado," said Danny
Butler, 50, of Tollesboro. "It took houses and just leveled them. It leveled three of
four right in a row, skipped over a couple and took down some barns, and then leveled a
few more houses."
Herron Hill was among the hardest hit, and 20 people were taken to Meadowview Regional
Medical Center in Maysville, Geneva Reed, house supervisor at the hospital, said nine of
the injured were in stable condition and two other persons were still in serious
condition. It was not immediately clear where any other victims were taken.
John Franks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio,
said at least one tornado touched down in the area, moving from Mason County into Lewis
In Tollesboro, Kathy McClurg, 47, watched as two funnel clouds collided to form a
larger tornado that destroyed a neighbor's house across the road from her home.
"We just watched it go in splinters, the house, the bar, the buildings,
everything," she said. "It was loud and turned as pitch black as I've ever seen
it. I was petrified.
"I said, 'Oh my God, it's coming right at us', " McClurg said. "I
grabbed my husband's hand and my mother's and I just dragged them to the living room. I
threw my couch over and threw my mother under it."
Butch Polley, who had just returned with a truckload of personal belongings from the
house to keep them safe, said the home belonged to Avery Stanley.
|"He heard the noise and went to close
his front door and couldn't get it closed," said Polley. "He took off running to
the basement and by the time he got there, his house was gone. It's a miracle that man is
Of the eight homes in the immediate area, "four or five of them aren't
there anymore; they're gone."
It looked like a bomb hit us," he said. "It's just unbelievable."
Franks said the areas were under tornado warnings at the time the damage was reported,
starting at about 4:50 p.m.
He said much of the damage was in the Charters area, about 10 miles west of Vanceburg.
Damage was also reported in the Cabin Creek and Poplar Flat communities, Franks said.
Tollesboro Fire Chief Gary Thomas said a family of four, the Polley family, were among
the injured after their doublewide mobile home was destroyed. "It's exploded,"
he said, describing the trailer. "You can't even tell it was a home."
Thomas said it took a team of about 20 rescuers working with chainsaws and hour and 15
minutes to make their way a half-mile to the injured family.
Keith Browning, a bartender at he Maysville Country Club in mason County, said
employees there saw a small funnel cloud touch down outside the club shortly before 5:00
It just tore up some trees and tore up the roof a little," Browning said. "It
didn't affect us much."
Ray Bowman, a spokesman for the State Division of Emergency Management said at least 20
homes in the region were destroyed, another 20 sustained major damage. One house in Mason
County was also destroyed, and another sustained moderate damage, Bowman said.
Officials opened a temporary shelter at the Tollesboro Christian Church Life Center,
where hot meals are being served at 5:00 p.m. each day.