The Day of the Tornado
April 1, 1974,
April Fools Day was almost over when the Devil began his tricks in Kentucky and the Mid-west U.S.
At 7:20 P.M. a tornado stopped the clock in Campbellsburg when it devastated "little ol' downtown..."
At this time I was a federal employee of the Department of Agriculture in Louisville,Kentucky. My title was Food Coupon Specialist and my job description was to authorize Grocers in the Louisville area to accept food coupons in payment for food items by authorized recipients of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As a duty I was to check up with groceries to see that the rule and regulations were followed. This required me to tour the stores to see if the rules were being maintained.
On April 2nd, as I had previously been scheduled to tour Boone County stores that week and, as I had a 'pass port' of Emergency Food Assistant, my Supervisor routed me through Campbellsburg to assist the grocery stores that needed it. The authorized stores were destroyed by the storm and it was determined that any stamps received had been deposited in their bank which was not. Therefore, I tried to contact my office through an communication van located on the Main Street. While waiting by the van, I spotted a twin-engine small aircraft. As an aviation buff, I watched as it circled overhead. Later my photo was published in the Louisville newspaper. I know it was me by you probably wouldn't have known it.
April 3, 1974,
I stayed over night in motel in Florence, Kentucky, and started my tour of stores. I don't recall any I visited except the one down by the riverside on the Ohio, the Rabbit Hash General Store.
Click here to visit The Rabbit Hash General Store. yourself.
After the visit and when I stepped outside the sky was complete black like stove plate. I started out and driving up the hill I was following a dump truck that I thought was full of gravel. Suddenly, this gravel seemed to me to being blowing and hitting the roof of my vehicle. It was hail stones from the tornado [I found out later] that started out in Indiana, moved into Ohio; crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky [near Rabbit Hash] and back over into Ohio again.
When I got back up the hill and to the Interstate you can bet I was high tailing it for Louisville!
On the way back to Louisville, I saw a twister in the distance which I judge was around Campbellsburg. Later, I found out this time the storm had by-passed the already devastated town.
For the third time in 84 years, Louisville was struck by a lethal tornado. Two lay dead in the wake of the vicious storm that moved from the Fairgrounds through the city and eastern Jefferson County. Miraculously, only 207 people were injured, considering that almost 900 homes were literally torn to shreds.
As the storm was exiting Louisville, I was on the Interstate just outside the Northfield area.
As I looked to my left; there was this dirty brown wall bearing down on me. I pulled the car over and jumped into a ditch. When the storm passed over me, I realized that the highway ahead would be impassible and pulled over on the highway and went back to the last overpass and headed for home.
We lived in a town house in St. Matthews on the east side of Louisville. I wanted to use the telephone but the line was down; so, I proceeded to make my way downtown to the Federal building. When I got back into my office, I phoned Lorraine as she worked in another office upstairs. When she walked in to my office, she exclaimed, "Oh I am so glad to see you!" I pulled open my jacket showing my muddy shirt, "Me, too!" When we got home and I got out of my gear there was a considerable amount of gravel under my shirt and above my belt line.
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