November 25, 1970
Typical scene in Hartford & Rockport
"We were lucky a lot of people were not killed," one man said as he sat talking to neighbors and friends in a cold and darkened restaurant.
"I thought it was the end of the world,'' a woman said as she surveyed the ruins of a friend's home.
These were just two of the many sentiments expressed Friday morning following Thursday night's storm which spawned winds of tornado force.
Sections of Rockport and Hartford were two of the hardest hit areas in the storm's path which stretched from Cleaton in Muhlenberg County to Tell City, Indiana. One section of Rockport looked as though it literally had been bombed. Many houses were extensively damaged and at least two house trailers were demolished.
Roland Wilkerson and his wife were in one of those trailers when the storm struck around 10 p.m. Mrs. Wilkerson was slightly injured and was admitted to the Ohio County Hospital. The wind lifted their mobile home from its concrete block foundation and rolled it more than one hundred feet down a hill and into another house. Only the wheels remained intact. Wilkinson was vitally concerned about the injuries to his wife and the loss of their home. He also had another worry. While discussing the ordeal with others in a restaurant, Wilkerson said, "it broke my only Johnny Cash record."
Half of Mrs. Helen Grave's home was torn away by the unexpected storm. Luckily, Mrs. Graves was in the other half.
The exact velocity of the wind has not been established. A spokesman for one usually reliable source said his recording instruments were knocked out with the wind reading gauge stuck on 66.8 miles an hour. It could have been much higher.
Devastation was evident in every direction. Roofs were ripped from the houses, large trees were uprooted, barns were demolished and utility poles were down. Many power lines were down and the fact that electrical service was knocked out could have been a blessing in disguise. Broken lines lay in streets, across cars and in yards. Because the power supply from Beaver Dam was disrupted, those lines lay harmless.
Many homes were without electricity and water for more than 18 hours. This also meant an equal number of homes were without heat.
At least nine persons were treated for storm-caused injuries at the Ohio County Hospital. Two were admitted but none was injured seriously.
The mobile home of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Abbot in Echols was blown from a hill wrecked. Mrs. Abbot was slightly injured. She said she protected her two year-old son by placing two pillows around him.
Gill's Radiator Shop and Myers' Restaurant, both south of Hartford, were extensively damaged. A remodeling project was almost completed at the radiator' shop.
Clifford Smith's trailer home, located near the hospital, was overturned and totally, wrecked. Smith, who was in the mobile home with his wife and three children, said the roof of the trailer started flapping like canvas prior to the strongest gusts of wind.
John Shields was in his residence on the Bob Hudson-Jack Baird farm off Highway 69 when the storm struck. Shields said many of the more than 200 head of cattle on the farm ran for the barn when the wind toppled a nearby tree. That proved to be a mistake for at least five of the animals. Within a matter, of minutes, the barn collapsed, killing four cows and a calf. Two more cows were injured and reportedly would be destroyed. Several trees around the house were blown down and several pieces of farm machinery were damaged when the shed they were in collapsed. Shields had his personal car parked in a garage behind the house. The wind lifted the garage from its foundation, demolishing the structure as it hit the ground. Shields' car was not scratched.
A large barn on the Goshen Road was lifted off the ground and set down just a few yards away. Damage to the building was light.
Clifton Cardwell, Rockport, stayed busy trying to keep his restaurant customers in coffee. Because the power was off, his large coffee maker was inoperative and he was attempting to keep cups filled with the use of a small perculator.
Larry Todd, manager of Kentucky Utilities office in Hartford, estimated the wind damage to his company's facilities at $12,000 to $15,000. Todd said electrical service was restored to most residents in Rockport by 5 p.m. last Friday. Homes which were not going to be lived in that night were omitted. The KU executive also said a 125 foot tower just across the county line in Muhlenberg County was twisted and will have to be replaced. The tower supported a 33,000 volt transmission line which serves Ohio County.
Members of the Ohio County Chapter of the Red Cross went to Rockport Saturday and determined property damage and human suffering was sufficient to warrant Red Cross aid. A spokesman for the chapter said between 40 and 50 family homes were damaged. A registration office was set up Monday in the Rockport Presbyterian Church to handle applications. The amount of relief provided by the Red Cross will be determined by individual needs.
No official estimate of financial loss has been released but the figure is expected to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Service station just south of Hartford on U.S. 231 leased by Jim Don Tichenor
Trailer off Highway 62 owned by Danny Asberry
Home of Mrs. Helen Graves