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KY residents reel from tornado

Some 120 homes were destroyed and another 600 houses are uninhabitable in one western Kentucky town struck by a tornado Tuesday night.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MADISONVILLE, Ky. | November 17, 2005

Some 120 homes were destroyed and another 600 houses are uninhabitable in one western Kentucky town struck by a tornado Tuesday night, according to preliminary reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More than 400 homes suffered minor damage.

The community of Madisonville was hardest hit, and local churches are providing some comfort. Some residents gathered at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday evening when a devastating tornado tore through the western Kentucky town.

"I came over to the church basement when the sirens went off and found others there, too," said Lorton. "We ended up making dinner by candlelight for everyone when the power went off."

For such a serious time, Lorton said, they made the experience as enjoyable as it could be for those who stopped in for food or shelter. He said that was important considering just what people were dealing with outside the church doors.

The tornado affected some of Lorton's own church members. A dozen had some sort of damage, he said, and another four families lost homes. Those who have no home are staying with friends and family, and Lorton said he's even housing one of the affected people.

Many churches around Madisonville are assisting the survivors. Both Parkview United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church are serving meals to anyone in need. The two churches are also offering prayer meetings to those who ask. The emotions are similar to those in the grieving process, said the Rev. Shane Browning, pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church.

"We have a lot of people in the community who are still in a state of shock," said Browning, who is also the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church. "To see their community wiped away in a matter of seconds is a bit overwhelming."

Lorton agreed, and added that the determination is there in the residents as well.

"Many are also now at a point of saying, 'Okay, let's get this cleaned up and see how it goes,'" he explained. "Others are dealing with a little bit of survivor's guilt. One of my parishioners lives in the hard hit area and her home went untouched. She's been helping her neighbors clean up but doesn't understand why her home went undamaged. I told her that she's there to be a blessing for her neighbors in need."

Browning and Lorton also agreed that the churches will gather together to formulate a long term recovery plan very soon. Browning said representatives from the United Methodist Committee on Relief will arrive soon to help with that process. Lorton meets with a group of local pastors every Monday, and said he knows this Monday's meeting will most likely end with a plan of action for the tornado recovery.

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