Like any good newspaperman, Earl Kinner is used to finding news. Last Friday, the news found him.
Kinner, the owner and publisher of the 112-year-old Licking Valley Courier, sent last week's edition to print Wednesday. The next day, he published and mailed out the Wolfe County News and the Elliott County News.
Last Friday, the paper's staff left about 3 p.m., and he went home to his house across the street from the paper's offices in downtown West Liberty.
By 6:30 p.m., both house and paper were gone. Kinner made it into his basement, and the house fell down around him, said Matt Hall, publisher of the Mount Sterling Advocate. "It took them about an hour to find him," Hall said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Kinner's son Greg and his family live nearby. Their house also was damaged but they were unharmed, Hall said. Kinner's grandchildren apparently also helped pull a neighbor out of the rubble of her house.
The nearby newspaper building is standing, but that's about the best thing that can be said of it.
After Kinner was rescued, he stayed in a shelter. But the news-gathering itch of a lifelong newspaperman had to be scratched. He asked for a notebook and began interviewing fellow tornado survivors, said Miranda M. Cantrell, Licking Valley Courier reporter.
"I wasn't at all surprised to hear he was doing that," she said. "He told people, 'my paper's coming back,' " Cantrell said.
With phone service still hit-or-miss in Morgan County, Kinner could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Meanwhile, Cantrell, who spent three days working in a shelter near her house, which was not damaged, had the same urge.
CLICK AND DRAG on Charles Bertram's panoramic image below to see the extent of storm damage in downtown West Liberty:
"So many people were asking questions. Where are the businesses going to go? ... So when I came home, I started up a Facebook page for the newspaper," Cantrell said.
The Licking Valley Courier went online Tuesday and began sharing funeral information, details on a public meeting Wednesday, where the bank and the health department opened up, and what's open and where around West Liberty.
By Thursday, Cantrell's Facebook page had more than 500 followers and was growing.
The page promises: "The LVC will be there to cover it when Morgan County rises again!"
"I didn't really know what else to do to help," she said. "People have said, 'When we see that paper again, it will make us feel a whole lot better, that we still have that piece of the community.' "
Thursday, a day late but still a near-miracle, West Liberty had that piece back.
The Licking Valley Courier was printed by the Mount Sterling Advocate, with additional photos and stories from papers all over the region, including Morehead, Salyersville and Lexington.
And with Cantrell's coverage of the tornado and the cleanup.
There wasn't much advertising — all the region's businesses are still trying to figure out how to reopen — but the paper managed to salvage its subscriber lists, so copies went out in the mail and to post office boxes and anywhere single copies can be sold.
And Cantrell was there to see the presses roll.
"It's what we do," she said. "It's a calling. It's our life and we want to do our part. And make people realize that what we have here is worth fighting for. People in Morgan County want to build back, better than ever."