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Families in Kentucky Are Having a Hard Time After Being Hit by a Storm Twice in the Same Places


BARNSLEY, Ky. — Devin Johnson’s life was turned upside down a second time when a tornado destroyed his home over the Memorial Day weekend. It was on the same lot in Kentucky where he had been homeless before, in 2021.

Johnson, 21, watched on Tuesday as chainsaws were used to cut into the burned-out trailer that he lived in with his grandparents and girlfriend. His family had seen this scene many times before.

They lost their old home in the small town of Barnsley in western Kentucky in a scary tornado outbreak in December 2021 that killed 81 people in the Bluegrass State.

Jones said, “We never thought it would happen again.”

It’s hard to know what to do as they start over, but he said they have decided on one thing.

Jones said, “We know for sure we’re not coming back here.” “It will remind me of all the times we lost everything.”

The National Weather Service said that a strong tornado hit Barnsley on Sunday. The tornado had speeds of up to 165 mph (266 kph) and destroyed a path that went across almost 36 miles (58 kilometers) of Kentucky.

Several rounds of strong storms hit the area, and damage survey teams were looking at the damage to figure out how many tornadoes hit. On Sunday, another strong storm almost hit the city of Mayfield, which is still recovering from a tornado that hit there in 2021.

Because of the storms on Sunday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a state of emergency and said five people had died across the state. On Monday, the governor went to parts of western Kentucky that had been hit by storms.

There is a promise that we will help rebuild every home and every life, Beshear said Tuesday on the social media site X.

Barnsley was hit by a tornado that tore through a part of the already damaged town and threw Johnson’s damaged trailer into the yard next to where Mark Minton’s family lived. A family in Minton had damage to their roof, and one end of their trailer was pushed off its base. They lost their home in the storm of 2021.

Minton said Tuesday that the numbers that show his family’s house was hit twice don’t add up. He is good at math and statistics.

He still doesn’t know if this is a total loss. After the storm in 2021, his family stayed put, but he doesn’t know what they’ll do after this one, which happened the day after his daughter got married. He wants to stay put because he has a lawn care business and his younger son will be a senior in high school next year.

Minton said, “I’ve seen my fair share of storms.” “But watching the exact same spot get hit twice in two years makes it hard to stay in the area.”

Before each storm, he took his family to safety. He said he’s staying at home at night to avoid any possible theft while his family stays with cousins.

Another family that Johnson’s left before the tornado hit on Sunday. They went to stay with a cousin in nearby Madisonville. As they watched the weather reports as the storm hit Barnsley, they felt sick.

“Everyone felt like they had lost everything again,” he said.

After that, as he drove home, emergency cars sped by him. He said that when he turned the corner into his neighborhood and got close to his family’s lot, “there was just nothing.”

His family stayed in their trailer during the storm in 2021. Johnson locked himself in the kitchen and clung tightly to a table with his grandparents, sister, and her boyfriend because there was no basement. In the hallway, his uncle and aunt laid down on a couch.

He remembered, “You heard a roar, and then the whole house started shaking.” “The power went out, and the windows broke all the way through.” Then all of a sudden you feel the wind, the pressure, and the roar going through the house. It starts pulling on you and trying to drag you out.

They were all fine when they came out, but the trailer was a mess. They were able to get some things out of the wreckage, including a statue of Jesus and Mary that Johnson’s grandma had loved for decades. They found some family heirlooms, like pictures.

He said that Johnson’s family put together their new trailer piece by piece as they saved up money. But after the most recent tornado, the family’s house and things were all over the neighborhood.

He said, “This time, everything we have is gone.”

At the end of the day, they found an engagement ring that belonged to the grandma of his girlfriend.

He said, “It’s very important to her because it’s the last memory she has of her grandmother.”

When bad things happened, his family was covered both times. But things are just as bad for them now as they were before.

Jones said, “Right now we don’t have any money.” “Now all we have to do is figure out what to do next.”

He is staying at a hotel in Madisonville, and family is paying for it.

We’re going to move to Madisonville. He and his lover have been saving money since the storm in 2021 so that they can get their own place. But, he said, they’ll probably stay with his grandparents for now. He works in a warehouse in Madisonville, and his girlfriend works in a plant.

He said, “It’s been so tight since then with all the bills we had to pay.”

After seeing how strong storms are, he wants a house with a basement.

“They know how powerful they are and how easy it is for them to kill you,” he said.

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