People Coped Well After '74 Tornado

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People Coped Well After '74 Tornado


How did Madison County people cope at the time of the terrible tornado of April 3, 1974? Actually, there was not much panic, and there were lots of examples of unselfish hard work. At the Telford Community Center, for example, some 50 volunteers showed up the next day, and they received from the people of Richmond all the food and used clothing that could be handled. Despite all the destruction of houses in the northern part of the country, there were really not a whole lot of families homeless. Some rented another house and others had relatives or friends who temporarily took them in. Many of our local heroes were policemen, firemen, rescue workers, water and gas company employees, and Bell Telephone and Kentucky Utilities linemen; they worked all the wet stormy night and the next day without rest. Insurance agents got "a most severe test of their business." The local National Guard unit was called into service, patrolling the affected areas to keep out the sightseers and to prevent possible looting. Many of the hard-hit places had volunteers show up the next day. At the William R. Turpin farm on Peacock Pike, for example, 40 men and boys showed up to salvage hay from the demolished barn and furniture from the ruined house, and to mend fences to contain the livestock that had survived. When the tornado came in from the west about 7 p.m., it severed the main KU power lines serving Richmond and most of the county. Until 11:30 that night there could be no gasoline pumped or television sets turned on, and the water company people immediately began urging the radio stations that people use the telephone for emergency calls only; the government officials and rescue workers were having trouble getting dial tone because the system was so heavily used. At 8:30 the next morning, the electric power went off again, this time for two days. With the electric powered pumps not working, Richmond faced an impending critical water shortage. President Robert R. Martin dismissed the university classes, and urged the dormitory students to all go home until the next Monday. The Winchester Sun printed the Register issue the day after the tornado, since the Register presses could not run. Pattie A. Clay Hospital administrator Byron Boothe had their emergency generator started when the power lines failed, and electric power was available for critical services in that institution. A plan to move patients to other hospitals, previously prepared for such an emergency, was readied, but it was not needed.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “People Coped Well After '74 Tornado,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 30, 2023,