An intense low pressure system swept through the area on Friday, March 3, producing produced violent thunderstorms, dangerous winds, flooding and several small tornadoes. Wind gusts of 73 miles per hour were recorded in Mercer County, according to the National Weather Service.
According to the Mercer County Sanitation District, nearly an inch of rain fell on Friday, but it was the wind that has the biggest impact. There was widespread wind damage and power outages reported with numerous streets—including parts of Main Street in Harrodsburg and U.S. 127—being closed temporarily.
McAfee Fire Station 12 is a total loss due to the heavy winds, said Ric Maxfield, chief of the Mercer County Fire Protection District, who was still inside the station when the wind ripped off the roof at about 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“There was a lot going on,” Maxfield said. The chief said he and firefighter Mitchell LeRocque had just returned from a run and were about to go home for the day when the winds began to pick up. Maxfield said he turned off the lights in his office.
“It got bright,” Maxfield said, as the roof started peeling off. He said he and LeRocque hurried out.
“It took both of us to get the door open,” Maxfield said. “We got out before the rest of it came down.”
While they escaped serious injury, the fire station was totaled. Maxfield thanks the firefighters and the community, in particular L.W. Wilson’s and Sons and Careys Towing, for their help in getting equipment out of the damaged station.
“They had to lift the whole roof to get the engine out,” Maxfield said.
All of the apparatus were relocated to other county fire stations, said Maxfield.
“They did an amazing job Saturday,” he said. “They came together and worked all day long.”
Maxfield said the fire district is taking bids on demo and cleanup.
“Once we get that done, we have to start working on building back,” he said.
Local officials also reported the winds broke an electric pole in front of Harrod’s Perk and Chill on College Street while the City of Burgin had to shut down city hall until power could be restored on Tuesday. Other areas, including the former conference center at Old Fort Harrod State park and Anderson-Dean Community Park, also saw damage.
Parts of Anderson-Dean had to be closed while staff cleaned up. On Tuesday, the park announced via Facebook that they could reopen the playground by the tennis courts, Kendyl and Friends playground, the skate park and parts of the walking track that had been blocked to the public.
The park said the volleyball courts, baseball and softball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts are still closed due to damage. Park Manager Jeremy Turpin said Tuesday they were hoping to have the fields open before the start of Little League. Turpin said they are still waiting on the insurance adjuster before making any further decisions.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has reported that the 1835 Carriage House—which they said underwent a complete renovation last summer—was also lost to the storm. Shaker Village officials say much of the original materials are salvageable and can be used to rebuild the Carriage House. They’re looking for volunteers to aid in the cleanup. Their annual Volunteer Work Day is Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers will receive complimentary meals during the day, and a 20 percent discount on an overnight stay and future meal at the Trustees’ Table.
In a Facebook post, Maxfield and LeRocque asked everyone to pray for the other people in our county and state who had it worse during Friday’s storms. At least five Kentuckians died, according to Gov. Andy Beshear, including a 41-year-old female in Fayette County. More than half a million power outages were reported across the state during the storm. By Wednesday, there were approximately 13,096 Kentucky Utilities customers still without power, with less than five Mercer County residents still waiting for the electricity to be restored, according to the KU online outage map.
According to Inter-County Energy’s Facebook page, they’d manage to reduce the number of customers without power to the single digits by Wednesday. That was across the co-operative’s entire service area.
Gov. Beshear declared a statewide emergency and at least eight counties—including Mercer County—filed emergency declarations and 29 counties have announced plans to do so.
Two cities filed emergency declarations while nine cities—including Harrodsburg and Burgin—have announced plans to file.
Mercer residents can continue taking brush to the transfer station free of charge for the rest of the week, the county has announced. Transfer station hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 859-734-6340.
The state is encouraging the public to call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, year-round, confidential crisis counseling and emotional support resource for survivors, responders and anyone struggling with distress or other mental health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster. For more disaster safety tips, visit kyem.ky.gov.
Follow the Mercer County Fire Protection District on Facebook.