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Kentucky Cleans Up After Tornado; Severe Weather Hits N.C., Texas

May 30, 1996

PIONEER VILLAGE, Ky. (AP) _ Amid the debris left by a punishing tornado, Dwight Hoskins found a treasure.

``We found a swimming pool cover out in the road,″ Hoskins said Wednesday. ``I nailed it up over the hole in my roof.″

Some 1,150 homes were believed damaged by the twister that struck about dinnertime Tuesday in suburbs south of Louisville. Of those homes, 192 were destroyed, and more than 250 sustained major damage. No serious injuries were reported.

North Bullitt High was converted into a shelter for people who couldn’t return to their homes _ or what was left of them.

``There’s nothing left but the basement _ three walls of the basement,″ said Randall Jones.

Jones said his only warning was a call from his sister, who was at work and heard there was a tornado in his neighborhood. He made it to the basement with seven other family members.

The tornado, which meteorologists said packed winds in excess of 150 mph, cut a seven-mile swath through Bullitt County, then headed eastward and destroyed 15 homes in Spencer County, where 40 other homes were damaged.

Barbara Abell said the noise was deafening.

``They always say it sounds like a train but it sounded like a jet plane to me,″ she said. ``My dog was barking but I couldn’t hear him.″

She weathered the storm in a bedroom closet, and her home had only minor damage.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, fire and rescue workers had all but completed a door-to-door check to assess damage. Sunlight streamed into roofless homes as residents hustled to salvage their belongings. Other homes lay in a ruin of bricks and blown-out windows.

Access to the damaged areas was restricted to residents. Kentucky State Police and National Guard troops provided extra security and a curfew was imposed for a second night Wednesday.

Severe spring weather continued Wednesday with strong storms in North Carolina and Texas.

In Durham, N.C., a National Weather Service radio station that is supposed to issue weather warnings was knocked off the air. Authorities said the transmitter had been hit by lightning.

A tornado touched down in Rowan County, northeast of Charlotte, damaging a storage building. Funnel clouds and hail also were reported in other counties, though damage was limited to downed trees and power lines.

Meanwhile, a small west Texas ranching town was pummeled by a tornado and baseball-sized hail.

Hail piled up 6 inches deep in and around Mertzon, a town of about 650 residents about 30 miles southwest of San Angelo, officials said.

``It ripped every tree here,″ said resident Velia Martin.

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