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A mighty blow

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No tornado, but strong winds flatten family's carport, uproot trees

By Ben Carlson

It wasn’t a tornado that lifted the Cunninghams’ carport off its moorings and onto their vehicles last Friday morning, but it might as well have been.

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Instead, officials say straight-line winds at an unknown speed are what toppled the carport and uprooted trees at the family’s home just north of the Bluegrass Parkway.

“I spoke with the National Weather Service and there were no confirmed tornadoes,” said Bart Powell, the county’s director of public safety.

The Cunninghams’ son, James, said the strong winds blew in around 5 a.m., lifting a wood-framed carport that was anchored into the ground and attached to the house off the ground and onto his parents’ car and pickup truck.

Surveying the damage that afternoon, Cunningham said the winds also toppled a number of trees in the back yard, blew a refrigerator from the back yard to the front, and scared the family dog.

“It blew a trash can right up onto the roof,” he said. “From there it landed in a tree.”

The family’s dog was in its house inside a kennel, he said. The doghouse was flattened, but the dog managed to escape before being let inside.

“He’s OK, but he was scared,” Cunningham said.

Both vehicles sustained considerable damage, as did the carport and the side of the house. Cunningham said an insurance adjuster had already been at the scene, and that his parents were not injured.

The wind blew so hard that branches of trees that were blown over were tossed onto US 127, and a brown sign that promotes the county’s distilleries was flattened on the opposite side of the road.

However, a small party tent erected on poles in the yard of a residence right across the highway stood undamaged, and no damages were reported at the nearby Shell or BP gas stations.

Powell, the public safety director, said the damage to the Cunninghams’ home was the only significant damages his office reported following Friday morning’s strong wind and heavy rains.

“There was a tree down in a yard on Bonds Mill Road, and a tree was down on a road in western Anderson County,” he said. “Damage was very isolated.”

Powell said the carport likely acted as an umbrella, allowing the wind to get beneath it.

“It appears to be straight-line winds because the debris was all blown in a straight line,” he said, “not like a circular rotation.”

Powell said the county actually fared better than some areas.

“Frankfort and Lexington had substantial flooding,” he said. “We did not. The crossing at Rice Road was blocked, and we had some ponding for a short time, but that was it.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.