Wilbert Vault Co. employees describe taking cover as storm hits

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — A garage door was blown off the tracks and a roof caved in at Wilbert Vault Company. It happened so quickly, all employees could do was take cover.

“I don’t even know how to explain it. It was scary,” employee Tommy Garrett said.

The storm hit the burial vault business in a matter of seconds.

“Me and Carl were actually back there when all of that stuff fell down. Carl moved just in time, and me, I started seeing stuff fly, so I just started running. I covered my head and started running,” fellow employee Michael Vines said.

Wilbert Vice President Dennis Sanders said the storm was so powerful, it picked up one of their buildings.

“There was a 60 by 64 truck building, and it’s over in the field now. We had main power lines that ran the back of our property, and those poles are just down. So, I’m sure it’s going to be — I’m sure — some time before power gets back down this street,” Sanders said.

While they started cleaning up and rebuilding, Sanders and Garrett said Thursday’s storm is something they’ll always remember.

“I’m sure it opened their eyes. I’m sure that they’ll be thinking about next time a storm alert comes to be thinking about it,” Sanders said.

“Hopefully, we’ll just be able to get all of this mess cleaned up,” Garrett said.

Thousands were left without power in west Kentucky. Multiple crews from Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation and West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corpoeration were still out working late Thursday evening to get power restored. Paducah Power System fewer than 10 of its customers were affected, so their crews were helping Jackson Purchase crews.

That’s all the result of the storm that hit as thousands across our region waited and watched. First came the warnings, and then the storm. Video was captured by those who could do nothing but take cover and watch.

Out near Old Friendship Road, the wind whipped as a funnel cloud raced toward the Kentucky Oaks Mall area. Darwin Watkins was driving and said he could feel every bit of wind with the trailer attached to his car. “High winds and the dark clouds. You don’t know when it could drop out of the sky, so you just need to be safe,” Watkins said.

Van Bryant found himself just a couple of miles away from the passing funnel on his way home. “I could see it moving sideways to me, so I thought ‘Well, it’s not going to come over me.’ But then all of the sudden, my vehicle, it started acting like someone was in the back kind of wanting to pick it up and rattle it a little bit,” Bryant said.

Bryant said he has a newfound respect for mother nature. “You don’t realize how much power they have until all of the sudden that thing starts making that pretty good sized vehicle move around a little bit,” Bryant said.

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