Taylor County residents work to clear destruction left by tornado

Posted at 8:49 PM, Dec 13, 2021

TAYLOR COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The sounds of chainsaws and bulldozers could be heard Monday all along the path of destruction left behind by the tornado that tore through Taylor County early Saturday morning.

Clean-up was still in the early stages and homeowners and volunteers sifted through rubble to find precious family belongings and anything else they could save.

On Quisenberry Road, Austin Hite’s grandmother, brother, and friends dug through the mangled debris that was once his home. Hite and his family survived, but their trailer was thrown twenty feet and completely destroyed.

“We’re looking at complete devastation, 100 percent plus,” said Janet Whitaker, Hite’s grandmother. “We’re scrapping through for pictures or any personal reflection we can have of their life. Everything’s gone.”

Austin Hite woke early Saturday morning to the sound of his family’s trailer shaking, said Jabin Hite, Austin Hite’s brother. Austin Hite, his wife, and two children were thrown from the trailer when it was pitched by the tornado and flipped over the family’s vehicles.

A woman in the trailer next to the Hites was killed by the tornado.

Whitaker said Austin Hite’s family has received help from the state, the mayor, and even some people who just pulled over to offer food or gift cards.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help them recover from losing their home and both vehicles. The family is specifically in need of clothes, which can be donated by private messaging the family through the GoFundMe.

“You don’t even have to give back money,” Jabin Hite said. "You can give back clothes as well … keep my family in your thoughts and prayers, if you have pillows, blankets, anything.”

“And if it’s not to our family, someone else’s,” Whitaker added. “Because we know there’s others that’ve been hit just as bad.”

About two miles away there were multiple houses ripped from their foundations.

Johnny Gordon said he and his family are lucky to be alive – his home is still standing while others, including the one right next door, are completely gone.

Gordon and his wife, Lauren Gordon, were still trying to get their four children and Lauren Gordon’s disabled mother into the basement when the tornado hit.

“It just sounded like a bomb went off, very, very loud,” Johnny Gordon said. “It shattered the back wall of my house – dishes, glasses breaking, stuff flying through my house everywhere.”

After the tornado had passed, the 12-year-old son of the Gordons’ neighbors arrived at their house, soaking wet and distraught. The Gordons later learned that the 12-year-old boy had helped pull his mother from the rubble of their home and then wandered to the Gordons’ home because it was the only one in sight left standing.

“It was the safest place he knew to go,” Johnny Gordon said.

Lauren Gordon said the community in Taylor County is very close-knit, and she knows they’ll band together.

“These kids are not going to lack for anything,” Lauren Gordon said. “The parents too, but especially the kids. I know our town well enough to know they’re going to compensate and make this the best Christmas ever.”

Multiple people drove to the affected areas in Taylor County Monday offering to help. Mellisa Yates and Ashlee Kelly, both from White Mills Christian Church, drove in from an hour away to pass out lunches to people in Taylor County working to fix their homes.

“We kind of figured maybe it’s a smaller town, maybe Red Cross isn’t going to be as heavy here as it is in Mayfield and Bowling Green,” Yates said.

A member of White Mills Christian Church owns a farm in the area near the damage, so Yates and Kelly knew people there might need some extra help.

“We came down to just try to relieve some of that and bring all the people who are working down here some food,” Kelly said. “To lighten the load a little bit.”

WAYS TO DONATE: For a full list of ways to donate/help click here.

Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

Western KY Red Cross Disaster Relief Fundraiser

United Way of Kentucky

Kentucky United Tornado Disaster Relief Telethon

Salvation ArmyGlobal Giving: Midwest US Tornado Relief Fund

Convoy of HopeUK College of Medicine's Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

Kentucky Baptist Disaster ReliefIslamic Relief USA

Mayfield Graves County Tornado Relief

Other Fundraisers Verified by GoFundMe