Violent Tornado Cuts Path Through West McCracken
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - A tornado moved through part of McCracken County Thursday morning, doing extensive damage to several homes and businesses.

Kentucky State Police say they were notified of the tornado at 9:20 am, and responders were still at the scene as of 1:00 pm. They say about five square miles were damaged, including Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preschool on Blandville Road (US Hwy. 62). Forty children were in the building with adult instructors, but there were no injuries.

First responders were checking all area homes to ensure everyone's safety. Police say there is only one injury reported so far, and it is non-life-threatening. 

The only person known to be injured is James Gardner who was traveling from Cape Girardeau when a grain bin blew onto Highway 60, wrapped itself around his pickup truck and flipped over the truck on the road. Sheriff Matt Carter said his agency and Concord Fire Department responded and extricated him from the wreckage, and Gardner's only injury was a small cut.

After mentioning that the church sustained heavy damage but nobody inside was hurt, Sheriff Carter said, "The Almighty hand of God has provided safety to our community. The destruction path is approximately five miles long. There is approximately three homes that is devastated but no injuries, and also there is approximately a half-dozen other homes that has sustained minor to moderate damage. This could have been an extremely high fatality rate, and we're very fortunate and blessed to only report that one minor injury."

Carter said the tornado first touched down just west of Gholson Road and traveled northeast to around Denberry Lane before leaving the ground. While aloft, the tornado caused damage on Stevin Drive. This means the tornado traveled just southeast of McCracken County High School. 

The American Red Cross is prepared to establish shelter to provide assistance to displaced families that may have been affected by the incident.  They are currently operating an evacuation center at Broadway United Methodist Church to assist with immediate needs and to provide information.

Currently several roads are shut down due to debris and down power lines. They are Highway 62 east of McKendree Church Road, and Highway 286 east of McKendree Church Road. All traffic into those areas are being diverted across McKendree Church Road to US Highway 60. Traffic traveling west on Blandville Road is being diverted to Fisher Road and then to US Highway 60.

State Police request that the public stay clear of any downed power lines. Numerous linemen are on scene to restore electricity. At this time there is no estimated time for how long it will take for power to be restored.

As of 1:00 pm, there were 120 outages affecting over 5,300 Jackson Purchase Energy members, most of them west of the I-24 corridor.

Also at 1:00 pm, there were 18 outages affecting over 1,500 WKRECC members. 

The McCracken County Judge Executive’s Office has declared a State of Emergency for the county.

Anyone with damage can report it to McCracken County Emergency Management at 270-448-1530. 

The McCracken County Sheriff’s Department, the Kentucky State Police, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officers be patrolling in the area. Any trespassers or looters will be arrested and prosecuted.

Anyone who does not reside in the affected area should stay out to allow crews to effectively do their jobs.

Original Story (10:40 am):

A tornado moved through part of McCracken County Thursday morning, doing extensive damage to several homes and businesses.

Early reports indicate most of the damage was in the southwest corner of McCracken County. We have confirmed reports of damage to power lines, and about 8,000 JPEC customers are reportedly without power at 10:30 am. There is no estimate on how long the outages will last.

There have been reports of minor damage at Kentucky Oaks Mall. Authorities are asking people to stay away from the mall area while crews work to assess the damage and begin repairs.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says US 62/Blandville Road is blocked by storm debris between KY 305/Fisher Road and the KY 286 intersection at Milan Station.  Many side roads in this area are also reportedly blocked.

Crews in the area report pieces of grain bins, barns, homes and other debris blocking the roadway.  Some of the debris cannot be cleared until utility crews arrive to cut power to the area where work is required.

The storm left a path from near Lovelaceville along US 62 to the KY 286 intersection at Milan Station, then along US 62 to the KY 305/Fisher Road intersection in McCracken County.  There are additional areas of downed trees and power lines reported between US 62/Blandville Road and US 60/Hinkleville Road through the West Paducah area, as well as utility poles down near the US 60 intersection with Olivet Church Road and New Old Road at the west edge of Paducah in the Mall area.

Drivers traveling between Paducah and Ballard County or Paducah and Carlisle County should avoid US 62 and KY 286.

There have been no confirmed reports of injuries. We will update this story as more details become available.

Published 01:10 PM, Thursday Mar. 14, 2019
Updated 03:12 PM, Friday Mar. 15, 2019

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