Storm damages more than a dozen Lexington homes, knocks out power to 10,000

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJuly 27, 2014 

Charlotte Yaden sat on her front porch Sunday afternoon trying to comfort her dog Molly Rose as Yaden gazed out at the debris surrounding her Cathy Lane home.

Less than four hours before, a strong storm sent her neighbor's metal carport cartwheeling into her driveway, narrowly missing her husband's truck. Her 2013 sport utility vehicle wasn't so lucky. One of its windows was knocked out — a neighbor's trash can the likely culprit.

"It didn't sound like a locomotive or a train," Yaden said of Sunday's storm. "It was all over in less than a minute."

Strong winds and thunderstorms yanked trees from their roots, knocked out power to more than 10,000 Kentucky Utility customers and caused structural damage to more than a dozen homes off of Georgetown Road in the Highlands neighborhood. It consists mainly of smaller single-family homes, many of them built in the 1950s.

No injuries were reported to the Lexington fire department, Battalion Chief Jeff Nantz said.

Nantz said the department responded to more than 50 storm-related calls in about five hours involving downed tree limbs and possible fires as a result of the storm. None of the reported fires was serious, Nantz said.

It was fortunate that the fire department was able to respond — its communications equipment was down for most of Sunday afternoon.

Lightning struck the equipment shortly around noon, Nantz said.

Thanks to some quick-thinking dispatchers, calls were routed to the personal cellphones of fire personnel. Nantz said the technology staff was working on fixing the communications system, and it was expected to be mostly operational by Sunday evening.

Yaden and other neighbors in the Highlands area said the storm hit shortly before noon.

When the wind started to pick up, Yaden said, she told her husband to get away from the door, scooped up her dog and headed into an interior hallway in her home.

In addition to the damage to her vehicles, the awning on the back of her home was torn off and was hanging precariously on a power line. Her neighbor's roof was damaged; both homes' backyard fences were wiped out, and trees were down.

"But we're OK," Yaden said, adding that she probably would spend the night at her brother's home because she didn't have electricity.

Steve Jackson, director of operations for Lexington-Fayette County Emergency Management, said it did not appear that a tornado was responsible for the damage. However, emergency management were making assessments in the Highlands neighborhood Sunday afternoon.

A tree went through the roof of at least one home in the Highlands neighborhood, making it uninhabitable, Jackson said. At a home on Mark Avenue, the garage was destroyed.

Jackson and the city's code enforcement officers were checking homes to see whether people could stay in them. Columbia Gas was shutting off gas lines and ensuring that the damage hadn't caused gas leaks.

Mike Crow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville, said that in addition to strong winds, hail was reported in Lexington and in Central and southern Kentucky. Crow said downed power lines and trees were reported across Central Kentucky.

Shortly before 3 p.m., Kentucky Utilities reported that more than 10,000 customers in the Lexington area were without power. By 7 p.m., the number had dropped to less than 2,000.

Crow said there was a 20 percent chance of rain Monday, but no major thunderstorms were expected.

Beth Musgrave: (859)231-3205. Twitter:@HLCityhall

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