Louisville Mayor Hill looks back on tornado
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 AM
Louisville Mayor William Hill told the Philadelphia Rotary Club last week that words were inadequate to fully describe what happened in his city on April 28.
He recalled that the area was hit pretty hard by an earlier storm on the Thursday before the tornado.
"That Friday I attended my first ever weather briefing," he said. "I had never met the MEMA representative before."
He said utility crews worked hard the days before the tornado in preparation of the severe weather which was forecast.
He recalled watching the tornado the next Monday passing by the water treatment facility and thinking that it had been taken out.
"I thought it had been destroyed but it wasn't that bad," he said. "The workers helped and immediately jumped into action."
Hill said he took shelter with his family and in-laws. His residence was one of those which survived undamaged.
"We lost about 250 homes," he said somberly of his city.
Hill thanked all the volunteers who appeared immediately after the tornado passed, calling it "incredible."
"We were in rescue mode for the first couple of days," he said.
He told Rotarians that he was hard to determine if rubble was from a home or business.
" We thought there were hundreds if not thousands dead," he said of their initial assessment.
Hill said the tornado touched everyone in Winston County and Louisville.
"The storm hit everybody and everything equally but thankfully God kept it from being worse," he said. "We are in full recovery mode now. We're still 'Winston Strong.'"
Hill said the city and others have removed approximately 60,000 tons of debris since cleanup began.
"None of it concrete," he said.
Following the tornado, the Louisville city board went through the process of opening a new landfill.
"We did what normally would take six months to a year in three weeks," he said, noting the new landfill will be good for the next 90 years.
Hill ended by telling Rotarians, that despite the loss of life and property destruction, Winston County is staying strong.
"We are 'Winston Strong,'" he said. "We can't rewind time but we can seize the moment to make it right and come back stronger."