Just as emergency responders and utility companies were about to get a handle on a line of damaging storms that moved through Marshall County on Friday night, they were summoned again to an even more powerful punch from severe weather early Sunday evening.
Two boat docks which were at full capacity suffered extensive damage at Moors Marina on Kentucky Lake in the Sunday afternoon storm that passed through Marshall County at around 5:15 p.m. carrying strong winds. One of the larger docks at the marina was completely destroyed. A second dock incurred roof damage and the walkway was torn away from the shore.
Marshall County Emergency Management Director Curt Curtner called it "astonishing" that no one was injured or killed when the storm hit the docks. He credited the evacuation plan that was executed by staff at The Moors when warnings were issued.
Curtner said a handful of people who were on boats when the storm hit became trapped and had to be evacuated by first responders, but most heeded warnings and moved onshore when the staff at Moors issued a call for evacuation moments before the dock blew apart.
Curtner said based on his experience he believes the damage was caused by tornadic winds."With that twisted metal, it's going to surprise me if it wasn't a tornado." he said. A tornado warning had been issued for the county a few minutes before the violent winds moved over the Kentucky Lake area.
A storm damage survey team from the National Weather Service in Paducah was scheduled to visit the area on Monday to assess damage and determine the exact cause of the destruction at Moors and other areas along Kentucky Lake.
Mark Wood, owner of Moors, estimated about 40 boats were heavily damaged from the collapse of the dock. He said a number of others have scuffs and scratches.
Norman's Marine Service out of Tennessee, who specializes in damaged marina cleanup, was already working to clear the damage caused by Friday night's storm that hit Kentucky Dam Marina, moved to Moors Sunday night. Curtner said they will work to stabilize the boats to make sure none are taking on water and start to remove the vessels from the damaged slips.
Wood said the resort remains open and the only damage is to docks A and B. There is no damage to any of the rental boats, there is lodging available and the restaurant continues to serve.
"It's very odd, looking at the damage. You look at the marina in a 360-degree perimeter and there's no damage except in that one spot. It's like a little tail of a tornado touched down just right there at one spot."
A fire boat crew out of the East Marshall Fire Department applied Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) to the water to form a barrier to prevent ignition of leaking boat fuel. Employees of Moors Marina had to be confined to the dock store and were unable to exit the dock until the fuel safety issue was addressed. Utility poles were also broken and toppled into the water.
East Marshall Fire Department responded to the incident with assistance from the Marshall County Rescue Squad, Marshall County Emergency Management, Marshall County EMS, Marshall County Sheriff's Office, McCracken County Sheriff's Office, McCracken County Rescue, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Friday's storms left behind damage at Kentucky Dam Marina when a pier broke loose and was blown several hundred feet into the bay by strong winds. People were on the pier when the storm hit, but no one was injured.
The lodge and surrounding cabins at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park lost power during the storm, causing the closure of the park during what was to have been a busy weekend. They remained closed at press time Monday, though power was restored at around 4:30 Sunday evening. An employee at the lodge said she was hopeful the lodge would reopen sometime yesterday, but expected it to be several days before the cabins were ready to reopen. She said most of the guests who had already checked into the lodge on Friday checked out and went in search of other accommodations.
Forest Service crews at Land Between the Lakes asked people to avoid visits to the park over the weekend as crews located and cleared hazards caused by downed trees.
"We have crews working all across Land Between the Lakes that continue to find new hazards and we need the public to avoid the area while we locate and address safety concerns," said Tina Tilly, U.S. Forest Service area manager in a press release. "We know people want to come out and enjoy this beautiful place. Right now, we need time to find and address hazards. Safety is our priority."
The most extensive damage is in the northern portions of Land Between the Lakes. Most of the Kentucky portion is without power and could remain without power for an extended time. Many campgrounds were without power and closed until further notice while crews secure downed power lines and remove trees. The Forest Service said they continued to find structures damaged in the storm.