A storm that plowed through Harlan on Monday, bringing with it extremely high winds and severe conditions, has left behind a lot of damage and debris.
Power outages, downed trees and other damage were reported throughout the county, with the city of Evarts sustaining the most damage, according to Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill.
“Two businesses in Evarts have sustained heavy damage,” said McGill. “Another business has sustained some damage…several homes in Evarts have been damaged. Numerous trees are down everywhere, most of them on private property.”
McGill said KU had worked through the night to restore electricity, and as of approximately 3 p.m. there were still about 450 residents in Harlan County without power.
McGill said a home in Elcomb was damaged, possibly beyond repair, and power outages were widespread.
“We’ve got the Red Cross in here today talking to people to see if they can provide any assistance,” said McGill.
He said he was also contacting volunteer agencies to see if they may be able to provide assistance clearing some of the debris.
Coy Prichard, disaster program manager for the Red Cross, spent much of Tuesday traveling the county with McGill to assess what the Red Cross can do to help.
“(We) first got the call yesterday evening late from emergency management,” said Prichard. “They were unable to do damage assessment that late in the evening.”
Prichard said he has been doing damage assessments since Tuesday morning.
“We’re in Harlan County to provide assistance to anyone that has enough damage that they’ve been put out of their home,” said Prichard.
He said he had not seen enough damage to open a shelter at this time.
“We thought we might need to open a shelter because the debris field made it look much worse than it really is,” said Prichard. “Most damage we have found to the actual homes is superficial. Siding is taken off or rain gutters have been taken of, shingles taken off the roof, that sort of thing. It seems like the businesses were hurt a lot more than the private homes.
“We don’t see a need for a shelter; we’re just going to handle each family as they call in.”
Evarts Mayor Eddie Manning said the city’s residents are pitching in to help with the cleanup work.
“Our city workers worked until dark last night picking up debris and trees,” said Manning. “Today everything’s looking a lot better. A lot of people are pitching in to get things cleaned up and we’ll be back to normal before long.”
Manning said the city will pick up debris if residents follow the proper procedure.
“We ask anybody that’s got trees down in their yard, if they will drag them to the edge of the road and call us our city crews will come by and pick them up and dispose of them,” said Manning. “They can call city hall at 837-2477.”
Manning added the city will also pick up debris left behind by the storm.
Tim Brackett, manager of a Marathon convenient store, which sustained damage when the roof was blown off the Dairy Hut into the store’s parking lot, was having lunch at the Dairy Hut when the roof blew off.
“We realized the roof…had blown across the street into the Marathon store,” said Brackett. “It blew it through the windows and knocked the front of the wall down and trapped two workers and about five customers inside. They had to be evacuated through the drive-thru, but everybody was fine.”
Brackett said there was a woman and child trapped in a car outside underneath the roof.
He said there are plans to have the Marathon store back open for business soon.
“All we have to do is get the electricity turned back on,” said Brackett.
McGill said nobody was seriously injured.
Anyone needing assistance may call Harlan County Emergency Management at 573-6082.
People who have sustained enough damage to their home to make it impossible to stay there may contact the Red Cross direct at 859-893-2395.
Joe Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde