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Tornado Rips Through W. Kentucky

January 4, 2000

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) _ A strong storm that spawned at least one tornado ripped through this western Kentucky city on Monday, damaging a shopping center, hundreds of homes and a college campus. Several people were injured.

At least 12 people were treated at hospitals, said Ray Bowman, a state emergency official. Their conditions were not available.

The storm was part of a band of unstable weather that rolled across the nation’s midsection on Monday. Thunderstorms knocked out power and flooded streets in Arkansas and a storm damaged more than 20 homes in southern Illinois.

Kentucky State Police in Henderson received reports of several tornadoes in the Owensboro area, a dispatcher said. The National Weather Service confirmed that one tornado touched down in the city of about 54,000.

``We were sitting at home and the wind started picking up, and then it started pouring down rain and things started to fly,″ said Marti Fenwick, a mother of three whose home was damaged by the storm.

A state of emergency was declared in Owensboro, and a curfew was imposed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesday to keep people off the streets as emergency crews assessed damage and began the cleanup.

The storm damaged 750 homes and 35 businesses and caused widespread power outages, Bowman said.

In nearby Crittenden County, nearly two dozen homes were damaged, and a tornado was reported in Webster County as the storms skipped across western Kentucky and north-central Kentucky throughout Monday.

The storm caused extensive damage to Kentucky Wesleyan College and to some businesses lining a main city thoroughfare. High winds tore off the roofs of several buildings on the college campus, including the president’s home.

``Every road leading on or off the campus is blocked by downed trees or power lines, so there is no getting in or out,″ said college president Wesley H. Poling.

Classes don’t start until next week, so few students were around.

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