Mercer factory receives minor damage


Lincoln County was not the only area struck by severe weather on Wednesday. Mercer County and Casey County also experienced thunderstorms and high winds, and four were injured in a Pulaski County mobile home park.

In Mercer, the Trim Masters factory and corporate headquarters complex on Industry Road in Harrodsburg was hit the hardest.

At about 2:50 p.m., a nearby siren sounded, alerting the employees of Trim Masters of the approaching severe weather. By about 3 p.m. the extreme force of the wind and rain brought emergency measures into action, and the 450 employees of the factory retreated to the shelters.

When they emerged at 3:35 p.m., they noticed minor damage to the building, toppled trees, and moderately severe injury to the totes (boxes used for transporting the finished product) stored behind the plant. "A spotter from Bay West spotted a tornado. I'd say that's pretty realistic," said Trim Masters General Manager Dale Kihlman.


The damage is relatively minor, confined to three or four large dents in the rear of the building caused by airborne totes. The interior of the building was also affected. Ceiling tiles and light fixtures were shaken down by vibrations caused by the high winds rattling the air conditioning units on the roof.

Although there are still concerns about potential electrical problems which the city will review in the coming days, there is no structural damage. The most visible effect of the storm is the mess caused by the totes, with pieces of plastic and paper strewn all over. One tote even flew over the roof of the building and lodged in a tree on the other side.

There were no injuries reported. Both the factory and the nearby corporate center practice emergency drills, especially in the spring, which helps limit the impact of such inclement weather.

According to a conversation Kihlman cited with the Mercer County Judge Executive John Trisler, Trim Masters is the only local business to be damaged in this storm.

By 4 p.m., a dozen workers were already cleaning up the debris. Kihlman notes, "It's all happened so quickly, but you just take care of what you've got your hands on."

The storm was at its worst just as the first shift was due to let out, so that when the employees were able to leave the shelters they simply went home. Because of this timing, there was little disruption to the factory's normal operations.

Other than the task of cleaning up the mess out back, Kihlman says, "It's business as usual."

Damage reported in other counties

In Lincoln County, storm-shocked neighborhoods took on drenching rain for a second time as Kings Mountain worked to clear streets from earlier wind damage. According to dispatchers, one vehicle was flooded and stalled when driving through high water on Angel Ridge Road, though no injuries were reported. Those roads also flooded Wednesday evening included Maple Swamp, Geneva McKinney, Rube Brown, KY. 1778, Ky. 1781 and Shake Rag.

The National Weather Service has predicted more severe weather in store for the county this afternoon.

The high wind and rain storms that moved through Casey County Wednesday evening washed out roads and culverts, downed trees and caused electrical and telephone outages. However, there were no major problems or injuries, said county Judge-Executive Ronald Wright.

Two roads - Ky. 198 in Middleburg and Randolph Street in Liberty - were still closed this morning by high water.

Portions of Liberty were without electricity, and scattered outages were reported throughout the county but most were restored by midnight, a spokeswoman at Inter-County Energy said this morning. She said there was still one outage each in Casey and Boyle this morning.

Volunteer firefighters helped the road departments clear downed trees out of roads.

At least four people were injured by a storm that swept over the Cheyenne Mobile Home Park about eight miles north of Somerset, according to 911 Supervisor Charles Walker.

The four were taken to the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset where a nursing supervisor said all were treated for minor injuries and released.

Five mobile homes were destroyed by this morning's storm and many others damaged, police reports said. It was not immediately determined if the damage was caused by straight line winds or a tornado, Walker said.

The storm also downed trees and power lines, leaving the area with scattered electrical outages. Some roads were left blocked by fallen trees, limbs and minor flooding.

Staff writers Emily Burton and Brenda Edwards and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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