HENDERSON, KY, 12/14/21– In the spirit of helping neighbors under duress, the City of Henderson has been pitching in with recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of last Friday night’s historic tornado that plowed through western Kentucky just to our south.
Chief Scott Foreman says he made the Henderson Fire Department available at the state level as soon it was evident Henderson was out of the threat for severe weather.
The ability to provide that support was made possible by the decision, based on the forecast of extreme weather, to call in an extra crew on Friday afternoon and evening. Chief Foreman says shortly after the “all-clear” for Henderson, Rescue 1 and Battalion 1 were assigned to respond to Hopkins County and then Princeton in Caldwell County to do welfare checks and hazard mitigation in the Country Club subdivision.
“Once this was complete, the crews were then reassigned to Mayfield to assist with search and rescue efforts at the candle factory (Mayfield Consumer Products),” Foreman said, noting that crews were eventually relieved by the Fire Prevention Team and continued with search and rescue in both Mayfield and Dawson Springs on Sunday and Monday. “The devastation was so extreme and literally looked like a plow three-fourths of mile wide came through the area and flattened everything in its path, Mother Nature is so powerful (with) the force to literally turn an approximately 75,000-square-foot manufacturing facility into a pile of metal that resembled a metal scrap yard.”
On the home front, Henderson Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Communications teamed up with Henderson County Schools, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Silver Creek Trucking, City and County officials and local volunteers to launch a disaster relief supply collection based at the former Henderson National Guard Armory now owned by the City of Henderson. The project concept and use of the Armory as a staging area was suggested by Henderson Police Chief Heath Cox early Saturday morning to City Manager Buzzy Newman , who gave it the green light.
All day on Saturday and Sunday, the community delivered supplies suggested from a published list that included everything from bottled water and pet food, to cleaning supplies, trash bags and infant formula. Chief Cox reported to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon that to date, Dawson Springs has received three loads of supplies, Princeton two, Greenville four to support tiny Bremen, Mayfield four and Nebo three.
“I can’t speak enough about our volunteers,” Chief Cox said, noting that donations have poured in from all over including Indiana, Illinois and Owensboro. “Generosity has been overflowing. We should all be proud of where we live.”
Supplies continue to be collected this week from 4-8 p.m. to be distributed as they are needed. A new urgent list of items was published on the HPD and City Facebook pages Tuesday afternoon. Chief Cox said the operation will be reassessed after Friday’s collection. Both chiefs were commended for their leadership in the face of the western Kentucky crisis at the Tuesday commission meeting.
At Henderson Municipal Power & Light and in conjunction with the American Public Power Association, General Manager Chris Heimgartner has been helping coordinate manpower, equipment and materials to the hard-hit municipalities.
“So far, all the immediate needs in Mayfield and Princeton have been met with relatively local help,” Heimgartner said. “That will likely change in the next day or so as the hard-hit areas gear up to accept more help.”
Similarly, Henderson Water Utility staff has been in frequent contact with water system operators in both Mayfield and Dawson Springs to offer manpower and expertise. Mayfield lost most of their sewer plant, their water distribution plant and a 600,000-gallon water tower. Since they do provide water to all of Graves County, they have nine other tanks on their system. They’ve made repairs to the water distribution plant, but currently have the manpower to shut off water meters and repair damaged fire hydrants. HWU is on stand-by to take over with assistance in pulling meters and making repairs in both Mayfield and Dawson Springs as initial responders need relief, possibly as early as the end of this week. Dawson Springs also supplies water to Earlington and Mortons Gaps, also impacted by the tornado.
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