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Southern Indiana Devastated by Tornadoes

Residents in Kentucky and southern Indiana are cleaning up after dozens of tornadoes touched down yesterday. Homes were demolished, and more than 20 people were killed.

Some of the worst damage was in Clark County. In Marysville, the town’s post office and hardware store are still standing—but that’s about it. Only 10 miles away in Henryville, the combined elementary, junior and senior high school was demolished.

Besides Clark County, Scott and Washington counties were also hit.

Indiana State Police Sergeant Jerry Goodin says the job is unimaginably huge—in all, there’s a three county area of destruction, with hundreds of miles of rural county roads.

“So what we’re having to do is that we’re literally having to go down county roads and we’re checking homes as we go down,” he said. “After a home is searched and everyone is out of it and we seem to be okay, then we’re putting a check mark on that home so people will know.”

Goodin says he’s never seen this type of mass destruction.

“The worst case scenario happened for us,” he said. “We had multiple tornadoes and it happened all of a sudden. And like I said, we knew there was a possibility that something like this would happen and we were trying to prepare. But there’s no way you can prepare for something like this happening.”

Since the storms hit, the towns have been flooded with volunteers—people hoping to help. Goodin says nearby residents should stay clear of damaged areas until they hear otherwise, so they don’t risk hampering rescue efforts.

Local News Next Louisville

Churchill Downs Spring Meet Ends Today

The spring meet at Churchill Downs comes to an end today.

It’s a spring meet that won’t soon be forgotten. Just under two weeks ago, a tornado ripped through the Churchill Downs backside, causing extensive barn damage but no injuries to people or the hundreds of horses stabled there.

Spokesman John Asher says the heaviest repair work will start shortly after the end of the meet.

“We have exactly six-and-a-half barns that could not be used at this point because of storm damage, but frankly we’re not going to have to completely replace any of those. None of those barns will have to be razed. They’ll be repaired from the point where they stand right now,” he said.

Attendance and wagering figures for the spring meet will be tabulated soon. This year’s Kentucky Derby drew a record crowd of nearly 165,000 and the track’s night racing cards instituted last year have become a popular attraction.

The Churchill Downs fall meet begins October 30 and will include the return of the Breeders Cup Championship.

Local News

Churchill Downs To Make Up Most Missed Races

Eight of the nine Churchill Downs races that were cancelled last Thursday after a tornado struck the track’s barn area will be made up before the end of the spring meet next week.

Two races were added to last Friday’s night racing card. The rest of the makeup races will be run this Friday through Sunday.

The final day of the meet is Monday, July 4.

Officials say an EF-1 strength tornado damaged nine barns and several other buildings last Wednesday night. There were no injuries to people or horses.

Local News Next Louisville

NWS: Tornado Struck Churchill Downs; Racing Resumes Friday

The National Weather Service says it was probably an EF-0 or EF-1 tornado that tore through Churchill Downs last night, damaging more than a dozen barns and other backside buildings, packing winds of up to 120
miles per hour.

Spokesman John Asher calls it a miracle that no humans or none of the 1,400 thoroughbreds stabled at the track suffered injuries.

“It really is more remarkable by the moment when you walk through and look at the damage, see the scope of the damage, and to see what occurred that there were no serious injuries. We had no reports of
not only serious injuries but no injuries whatsoever,” he said.

Asher says track workers and horses whose dwellings were damaged are being relocated.

Live racing and training today were cancelled. Asher says Friday’s night racing card will go off as scheduled. There are two weeks left in the Churchill Downs spring meet.

(Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Local News

Isolated Strong Storms Cause Some Damage Wednesday Evening

Isolated strong storms swept through Louisville this evening with at least one suspected tornado touching down near Churchill Downs and the UofL football stadium.

There has been damage reported to some of the barns at Churchill downs but no injuries have been reported. Churchill Downs has announced that there will be no races on Thursday due to damage from the storm.  There are several downed power lines on Central and Floyd Streets.

LG&E is reported around 7,000 outages across the city at 9:30 pm.

Local News

UofL Expert Says National Warning System Should Be Better

The Director of the University of Louisville’s Center for Hazards Research says the high death toll from last night’s tornadoes is unacceptable.

David Simpson says with modern technology and media, governments should be able to give people enough warning to reduce death tolls whenever possible.

“I think there will always be cases where the event causes fatalities, whether it’s an earthquake, hurricane, or tornadic activity” says Simpson, “the issue is that with tornadoes, there is the chance of having some warning time, where some of the other events do not.”

Simpson says everyone should have a weather alert radio, especially those without televisions. They’re relatively inexpensive, but he says it may be wise for governments to distribute them. Simpson would then further urge people to respect warning systems.

“People do need to take the warnings that come out as seriously, and not think that if they’ve survived it before that everything will be fine the next time.”

According to Simpson, modernized warning system resources are vastly improving, but still show signs of vulnerabilities especially with human error, as was the case with Louisville’s civil defense sirens during severe weather earlier this year.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Mayor’s Office Says MetroSafe Audit Was Planned, Will Be Conducted

Two members of the Louisville Metro Council have asked for an audit of MetroSafe, following the recent failure of the civil defense sirens during a tornado warning. The mayor’s office will conduct the audit, but not necessarily because of the request.

Even though MetroSafe officials say they’ve fixed any issues with the sirens, the heads of the council’s Public Safety committee requested the audit. In a statement, councilmen James Peden and David James say there have been numerous concerns with MetroSafe, and an audit is long-overdue.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesperson Chris Poynter says the audit has been planned since day one of Fischer’s time in office, since the mayor plans to review every department.

“We have audits going on for the Planning and Design department we announced recently, for Animal Services and also for the Public Works department. We already have three ongoing and we will be announcing more in the coming months,” he says.

Poynter says he’s not sure when the MetroSafe audit will begin, but adds that the council members’ request will not likely change the timeline.

“We appreciate the council’s concerns and we will be auditing MetroSafe. The concerns over the sirens—we had a problem, we did an investigation and we corrected the action. So we’re pretty confident that the sirens being silent will never happen again.”

Local News

Following Last Week’s Failure, Louisville Tornado Sirens Sound During Drill

by Dalton Main

One week after civil defense sirens failed to sound during a tornado watch in Louisville, MetroSafe says all mechanical systems are functioning properly.

The agency took part in a statewide tornado drill today. According to executive Director Doug Hamilton, all 123 sirens were working properly, though three did not sound due to power issues.

“We didn’t have any issues identified, obviously we have put in numerous other ways for people to get notice other than the Emergency Alert System and those did function,” he says.

Last week, MetroSafe radios did not pick up a tornado warning signal from the National Weather Service. Further, MetroSafe employees did not manually sound the sirens when they learned of the warning. Equipment has been repaired and the agency is looking into disciplining the employees.

Local News

Statewide Tornado Drill Is Tuesday

The National Weather Service will issue a statewide tornado warning test in Kentucky Tuesday.

The test comes a week after emergency sirens failed to sound in Louisville during a tornado warning, and the city will participate in the test.

Kentucky Division for Emergency Management spokesperson Buddy Rogers says a warning signal will be sent shortly after 10 am Eastern Standard Time.

The National Weather Service will use what they call a TOR header code. When they use that code that automatically triggers the alert notification systems through network which sounds off the alarms in weather radios and it also is simultaneously broadcast to television and radio stations,” he says.

The sirens did not go off in Louisville during last week’s actual tornado warning because MetroSafe radios failed to pick up the signal. Supervisors then did not manually turn on the sirens when they learned about the warnings.

Rogers says schools across the state will also use this time to conduct a tornado drill.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

City Completes Review of Tornado Siren Failure, MetroSafe Supervisors May Be Disciplined

Disciplinary action could be taken against two MetroSafe supervisors who failed to manually sound alarms during a tornado warning Monday.

A recently-completed report from Louisville’s Emergency Management Agency and Metro Government concludes that a combination of technical and human errors kept the civil defense sirens from sounding.

First, MetroSafe radios did not pick up tornado warnings from the National Weather Service. The warnings would have triggered the sirens. Second, the two MetroSafe supervisors could have manually activated the sirens, but did not.

The Mayor’s office says action against the supervisors could include suspension, and is under review.

A series of safeguards has also been put into place. Several pieces of equipment have been replaced, and all supervisors will now have weather alerts sent to their phones and e-mail accounts. The supervisors have also been re-trained on storm procedures and how to activate the warning sirens.