By Daniel Brunty
The Winston County Journal
Winston County residents are in a state of shock as they try to recover from a storm system that created deadly tornadoes that killed at least 9 persons, damaged and destroyed homes, businesses, and other structures on the night of April 28.
With reports of multiple fatalities, missing persons, and a substantial amount of property damage, this is one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit Winston County. Louisville Mayor Will Hill gave an update on the progress of recovery efforts in the county.
“Currently it is Tuesday, April 29 and we are still in search and rescue mode,” Hill said. “There are minimal efforts at this point of any form of cleanup. The Nation al Guard is making a flyover. They also have boots on the ground. We have task force here as well as having Incident Command set up at City Hall. It has all come together, even through the chaos.”
With many residents of Louisville reporting damages or other grievances, it seems that the effect of the storms were citywide. “There is devastation and destruction ranging from the south city limit to the north city limits, as wide as a mile down to ¾ mile wide, just complete destruction,” Hill said.
Also, many residents are experiencing water and power outages. Hill spoke on the progress of both. “We know what the EMEPA and Louisville Utility situation is,” Hill said. “Power could be out for quite some time. They are working very hard to get the water back up to pressure. There is a boil water notice. Anyone in this entire area should be on a boil water notice.”
Many residents are still in the process of trying to locate known missing persons. As more time passes, locating missing persons is a top priority for search and rescue workers. “We will continue to work through, but right now there are boots on the ground walking through still trying to locate missing persons,” Hill said. “We are worried about lives, safety, and finding missing persons. If anyone wants to report a missing person should contact 662-803-9991. This number is designated ONLY for the purpose of reporting a missing person.”
The mayor also worries that time will also reveal more missing. “The number of missing has grown this morning because daylight hours have changed things,” Hill said. “More people are active, more people know what is going on in Louisville. Until the National Guard, the State Troopers, and all the teams let us know that everyone has been accounted for, then we will worry about accessing property damages. We can replace property but we cannot replace people.”
Hill also would like to recognize all the organizations and services that have came to the aid of Winston County in this time of need. “Red Cross is in place, and we have a shelter at First Methodist Church that is housing the nursing home patients who had to be moved,” Hill said. FBC has been gracious enough to set up a shelter, as well as allow MEMA Ops to set up there. The county and city have been working well together through this trying time.’
When asked what others can do to help, Hill had this response. “The main help that people can provide would be to stay off the roads,” Hill said. “If necessary, and when necessary, they are staging task force and aid at the National Guard Armory. From there, they will build the teams and assign team leaders to give them tasks.”
Hill is positive that through all this destruction and chaos, the fighting spirit of the residents of Winston County will prevail and see them through. “We are going to get through this,” Hill said. “Louisville will forever be changed, but together as a community we will be stronger because of this and we will grieve through this. However, we will rebuild through this.”