Kitts Hill residents say tornado hit homes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 13, 2003

KITTS HILL-- Mature trees, some 60 feet tall used to stand on the hill behind Betty Gilmore's house.

Those trees are laying on the ground now, torn up by the roots.

As workers repair the roof of Gilmore's house and chop up trees around it, residents along Dog Fork contemplate one question: was it only the wind that did all that damage, or was it a tornado?

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"I've been here 42 years and I've never seen anything like it," Gilmore said. "This wasn't just the wind, it had to be a tornado."

The Gilmore family had gone to the Lawrence County Fair and was not home when the storm hit. A neighbor called Gilmore on her cell phone to warn her what had happened, but nothing could have prepared the family for what they found when they got home.

Two walnut trees fell on her garage and a neighbor a half a mile away found the gutter off the garage in his yard. A truck topper that is kept in front of the garage was picked up by the wind and deposited in the back yard. The wind tore a hole in her roof and heavy rains damaged her living room.

Next door at Eric Morris'

residence, a trampoline was hanging from a tree and a wood deck was upside down at the side of the yard. Tornado or storm, it cut a swatch from one side of State Route 141 to the other side, then up the hollow and across the hill. Anything standing in its path wasn't standing afterward.

One thing that did not get blown to bits in the storm was the strong bond of friendship that is evident when neighbors help each other. Before the Gilmore's arrived home, some of their friends along Dog Fork were putting a tarp on the roof to keep the storm water out.

"I want to thank the neighbors for all their help," Steve Gilmore said. "The family of John Dickess, John Collier, Frank Jenkins and Eric Morris. I hope I don't leave anyone out. They took it upon themselves to help us out.

"It's good to have neighbors who will do something for you. I appreciate it."

Although days of cleanup lie ahead, the Gilmores said they are thankful no one was hurt. On Friday, their pastor stopped by with words of encouragement. In spite of the storm damage, the Rev. Jeff Davenport said he was pleased his parishioners have kept their perspective on the matter. Davenport said the storm is a lesson in the power of God.

"I don't pretend to understand what God does and why He does it with weather. I do know He had His hand on this family. We love to accept the beauty of God's creation, but oftentimes we are reminded as well that He controls it all; He has it all in balance," Davenport said. "It sort of reminds me I need to be trusting in someone stronger than myself and more consistent with the weather."