Thirty-five years later
April 23, 2009
- 1974 tornado outbreak; Thank the people interviewed for the story
- Learned about the earthquake that happened at the same time;
- Learned about Fort Knox's immediate response to the crisis of a neighboring community; installation's receipical agreement
- Military installation and local communities help each other in times of crisis, helps when everyone involved is prepared
I wasn't very old in April of 1974, but it made a heck-of-an impression on me. That was the year I added the word "tornado" to my vocabulary.
It is remembered as "the year of the great tornado outbreak" because of the 148 tornados that were spawned in 13 states over a 16 hour period. I was too young to understand anything but, "hide from the wind."
We had family and friends throughout Kentucky and in the Louisville communities of Indian Hills, Crescent Hill, and Cherokee Park-areas that were virtually demolished by an F4 tornado. The storms extended east into other parts of the state spawning additional tornados.
While researching the emergency preparation story on page three, I interviewed several people who work on Fort Knox and who lived in Brandenburg at the time of an F5 tornado-which almost wiped the city of the map. Many of them had stories they didn't consider to be interesting, and they didn't want me to use their names. But to me, these were great stories from their own memories of what they did experience, how they handled it, what they learned, and what they do to prepare for severe weather events today.
I thank each of them for taking the time to talk with me-even those who didn't want to be quoted, yet still told interesting stories.
I also found on NOAAs Web site (www.crh.noaa.gov) that two hours after the tornado Louisville experienced an earthquake that registered at 4.7 on the Richter scale. It was centered 40 miles northeast of Evansville and ended a day that helped to locally define the phrase "emergency preparation."
Something else I learned was of the involvement of Fort Knox during the after-effects of Brandenburg's crisis.
The only doctor's office in the town at the time, Naser and Cole, wrote a type of after-action-review in which they talked about the aid provided by the installation. It appeared in the Kentucky Medical Association Journal, and was written largely to share their experiences and thoughts with other physicians located in small rural communities with limited medical facilities, who may be presented with similar mass casualty situations. (visit www.april31974.com/more_tornado_stories.htm to read "How The Clinic Functioned After The Tornado" by the doctors who wrote the report.)
The two physicians' wrote that 30 minutes after the tornado, they were joined by Capt. Gary Klipple, M. D., Chief of Emergency Room Services, Ireland Army Hospital, and several medics. They arrived via helicopter, and brought extra medical supplies.
Then, they mentioned helicopter evacuation-the severely injured were flown to post, and others were transported to Knox and to Elizabethtown via ambulance.
And lastly, they write that by night fall the Army had guards posted around the clinic and other hard-hit areas. Emergency medical services were moved to a local school where they said the Army maintained emergency facilities with everything from staff and supplies to communications.
They ended their report with suggestions for small community medical facilities in disaster situations, and a word of appreciation and thanks to the Army.
I found this interesting not because the Knox personnel were on hand almost immediately, but because it goes to show that the installations receipical agreement to help local communities in case of emergency or disaster goes back so far.
David Fusselman, an Emergency Management Operations Specialist here on post, said that Knox has more than a dozen Memorandums of Agreement and Understanding with surrounding counties and cities for emergency medical service, fire and HAZMAT.
That means that in case of an emergency on post, we have only to call our neighbors for help. And they have only to call us.
With that in mind, when the emergency sirens around post go off, or the exterior voice announcing system or "Giant Voice" screams "Danger Will Robinson, Danger!" it's not just the people who live and work within the perimeter of post that need to pay attention. And when we speak of "Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed" we aren't just talking about military personnel.
There are countless emergency situations that can arise, and when one community is called to help another the best possible scenario is that everyone involved took the time to be prepared.