Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rural Destruction

On Friday, March 2, the Midwest and South were hammered with severe storms and very strong tornadoes. In Kentucky alone, 23 people were killed as a result of those storms. The following photos are from a small community in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. That Friday, an EF3 tornado packing winds of 160mph touched down in this little town. The tornado jumped around, leveling some houses and businesses while leaving others nearby untouched. Then down the road it would do the same thing again. It swept through three Kentucky counties and then crossed into West Virginia.

Several of us spent the past three days in this small town helping with recovery efforts. Many people literally lost everything and numerous businesses were destroyed. The elementary and middle schools were so badly damaged that they will have to be torn down and rebuilt. These photos only scratch the surface, but will give you an idea of the destructive power of the storms. What you won't see in the pictures are the huge numbers of people who were working to stabilize the town - utility crews, fire/rescue, law enforcement, National Guard, Red Cross, many different agencies, and lots of volunteers.







The only thing that prevented this building from going over the hill were the trees it fell against.




The tree that fell on this car was not small nor was it rotten.









Trees were snapped like match sticks and entire hillsides had trees leveled. The trees were pulled up by the roots.






The debris field from the tornado was unreal. Everywhere we looked there was stuff covering the ground, the hillsides, and in the standing trees. Insulation from the buildings was all over the area and stuck in trees. It looked like it had rained pieces of insulation. Just the clean up of the debris is going to be a massive undertaking.






This used to be the McDonald's sign.











I couldn't bring myself to take photos of most of the destroyed homes, but this upside down mobile home gives you an idea of the power the residents in this town experienced.



36 comments:

Melanie said...

Wow. These photos make me so thankful to have a nice warm bed, in my nice warm house to sleep in tonight. My heart goes out to all of you. Really incredable photos to document just how mighty mother nature truly is. God Bless.

Nancy Claeys said...

Just terrible. Such devastation. Have been thinking about you and others effected by this disaster.

Clint Baker said...

Your photos really show just a little of God's strength! Lord be with all of those during these tough times as we know You are!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

These photos are so shocking! The McDonald's sign really blows my mind. And that tree on the car! It looks like it was perfectly sawn apart. Talk about some crazy force. I really feel for the folks who lost their homes.

Tanya said...

so sad....your photos really tell the story...it's going to take a lot of hard work to rebuild....just sad...

Madge Bloom said...

That is so sad... I wish I lived close enough to help in some way... all I can do is pray. Bless you for helping Brian...

Marc Heath said...

Unbelievable and certainly makes me feel lucky that I never experience any of that. The force is incredible, your shots capturing the scenes well. Hope everyone was ok.

Wanda..plain~N~simple said...

I pray this is not a sign of what our weather will be like this year! Over the past few years the world has had much major destruction caused from Mother Nature and with this much damage to areas such a this, it is hard for them to rebuild and clean-up is a major task that will take years!

Amazing photos Brian, I commend you and your friends for your efforts to help this community during such a time of sadness!

shutterbuggbitten said...

This is a great post documenting the sheer power of the storms. Such a sad time for everyone, and it really makes me grateful that I am safe.

Deb said...

Friday Mother Nature was very destructive....she can be so beautiful...but she can cause so much damage...so nice of you to go lend a helping hand...so glad your okay

TexWisGirl said...

oh, brian, these are terrible! hard to imagine what that community is facing. the school destruction, alone, will set them back for years. i appreciate you sharing these images with us, and keeping the human element out of them, too. we all feel the pit in our stomachs - don't need to see the faces that would share even more pain and shock.

Leenie said...

Your photos tell a sad and frightening story. It's good to know the survivors are getting assistance from their neighbors. I think a lot of post disaster assistance goes unreported.

Tricia @ Bluff Area Daily said...

Unbelievable & unreal... one of the damaging tornadoes started just north of my parent's farm & travel east through downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri, then east toward Illinois, Indiana & Kentucky. Last Wed & Fri were definitely destructive tornado days... I'm so sorry for all the damage & lives lost!

I'm guessing the image w/ the red railing was a 2 story hotel? It literally looks miniaturized w/o more detail to the structure, mainly a roof!

It seems that the McD sign should have been destroyed, hard to believe it's still standing!

Excellent photo journalism, Brian!

Candy C. said...

Your photos are just heartbreaking Brian. I commend you for pitching in to help those affected by these terrible storms.

Tammy said...

Wow Brian, these photos are unbelievable! Thank you for helping; I can't imagine how devastating that must be.

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

That is so sad...
Excellent reportage photographs.

Regards and best wishes

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Hello Brian, thanks for visiting my blog this afternoon and for the kind comment. OMGosh...I can't imagine what it would be like to live through something like this! Your photo's are wonderful...I know it's probably not your favorite subject but I think it's important for the rest of us to see. We had the warnings and high wind and a few smaller tornadoes touched down not too far from us but we were safe and sound and untouched. The town of Henryville Kansas was hit very hard though. Last fall my sister in law and I traveled through Missouri and passed through the south of Joplin. We decided to see if we could see some of the devastation that had happened earlier that spring. We were shocked at what we saw. I did take photo's but I haven't posted them yet. A person needs to see this kind of thing to realize how important it is to take cover when the warnings are there. Thanks for posting this. I hope your day is a good one.
Maura :)

Tezzie said...

Scary and heartbreaking...

EG CameraGirl said...

Incredibly awful! It's one thing to see it on the news (and we had tons of photos here in Canada) but another to see photos on your blog and realize you saw it firsthand!

Linda said...

Witnessing the destruction firsthand must have been horrible. We witnessed the aftermath of the Missouri/Kentucky floods last summer and I know how heartbreaking it was. Very good photos of a terrible event.

ⒻⓁⓄ-❀ said...

hi,
es ist immer wieder ganz erschreckend wie die natur zuschlagen kann und sie zeigt uns auch wie machtlos wir letztendlich sind. auf der anderen seite aber auch...... wie dankbar wir sein müssen wenn wir nicht in einer gegend leben in der diese unwetter statt finden oder eben nur in kleinerem ausmaß.
wir glauben viel zu oft, .......alles in der hand zu haben.....

lg. flo

Pamela Gordon said...

These photos just make my heart sick for all those affected. It's so hard to believe the powerful force of nature and we, thankfully, don't have tornados here in N.B. We do have to deal with snow and flooding depending on the season but not the severity (or rarely) as these photos show. Thanks for visiting me. I'll check in on your blog again. Blessings, Pamela

Jill said...

Your photos really drive the devastion home. It is so sad.

Anne Payne said...

How devastating! Our community only suffered one tornado last year but it took out several homes and barns, etc. The path of destruction wasn't on the scale of these storms but it still put many families homeless. Thanks for your service to these folks!

MarmePurl said...

Thoughts. Prayers. Love. It just doesn't seem enough to offer, but all I have and I give it in abundance.

Jenn Jilks said...

Horrible, horrible events, but you say it well. Thank goodness for the infrastructure in North America.
Here, in rural Ontario, we depend upon volunteer firefighters. I laud them all I can.

Greetings from Cottage Country!

aquaFire Fishing said...

My sympathy goes out to all those affected there. Thank you for helping clean up. My house is just blocks from where the tornado went through Minneapolis last spring. Seeing the damage first hand really is an eye opening experience. It is great to see the community come together and help each other clean up get their homes back together.

Nancy said...

These pictures just break my heart and I am sorry for all the people that have been affected....I appreciate you sharing them with us...It's very hard to image this kind of devastation...

I appreciate your stopping by and leaving me very kind comments...

Stewart M said...

Hi there - remarkable set of images. So similar to the images from my part of the world after bush fires. I really dont know how people pick themselves up and get going again after an event like this.

Stewart M - Australia

gtyyup said...

Mother Nature can be so cruel...bless you and all the others to be there to lend a helping hand...always in our prayers.

Reena Walkling said...

So wonderful that you give of your time to help these folks. Such terrible losses!

Evelyn S. said...

I can't even imagine experiencing a tornado...OR seeing the aftermath! I'm not sure I can think of anything more frightening. The hillside with the downed trees reminded me of the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980.

Gillian Olson said...

The distruction is unbelievable. thanks for sharing these pictures. I'm feeling very safe and lucky here.
Thanks for your kind comments on my blog.

Phil said...

Such tragic, terrible scenes which bring the full force of the tornadoes home to us in the UK who never see such destruction.

barbara l. hale said...

Shocking and heartbreaking. We need to pay more attention to the power of nature and treat it with more care. My heart goes out to all those people. We had a little taste of this kind of destruction here in Massachusetts last May and didn't like it. Many are still trying to recover. It seems too early in the year for this kind of weather.

Saun said...

Holy cow is this West Liberty Ky? My parents grew up there.