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Kentucky New Era

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NWS confirms tornado touchdown

Heavy winds damage factory building, 7 injured in storm

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Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:00 pm | Updated: 10:08 am, Wed Apr 6, 2011.

The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down Monday as a line of severe storms moved through the region.

Rick Shanklin, a meteorologist with the service in Paducah, said the tornado touched down at TG Automotive Sealing Kentucky on Pembroke Road and was on the ground for approximately 4 miles. While the twister is rated at an EF-2, Shanklin said he was still assessing its intensity.

The winds tore panels off the TGASK building and damaged more than 10 power lines throughout the neighboring area. Debris was scattered around the industrial park, with pieces visibly lodged in the tops of trees hundreds of yards away.

Seven of the 184 employees at TGASK were taken to Jennie Stuart Medical Center via ambulance. Their injuries mostly consisted of “bumps and bruises,” said Paul Ray, spokesman for the Hopkinsville Police Department.

Steve Futrell, spokesman for the Hopkinsville Fire Department, said his department could not release the nature of the injuries for legal reasons.

TG, or TGASK, is a part of the Toyoda Gosei Group. Aaron Mills, a spokesman for Toyoda Gosei, said officials from TGASK are working with the injured employees and their families “to ensure their safe recovery.”

At least 33 emergency vehicles lined the road and the entrance to the plant. While emergency personnel raced around the scene, a visibly distraught woman ran from her car parked at a neighboring plant in search of a TG employee. Even after finding him and learning he was not injured, she was still shaken.

“I kept telling him from the house, there’s one coming, there’s one coming,” said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

The tornado tore the bay doors off the building where the man was working. He said he took cover behind a 10,000 pound mold, but did see another employee “thrown probably 30 feet” by the wind.

Bradley Gibson, another worker at the factory, said he was on the back side of the building when the heavy winds hit.

“I held a hold of my machine. My feet were dangling a bit,” Gibson said. “There was a big rush of wind. There was no warning, no sign. It was pretty dramatic.”

A line of employee cars streamed from the plant once ambulances had left the parking lot.

Atmos Energy, the gas provider for the plant, received a call around noon from someone at the plant, said Atmos spokeswoman Kay Coomes. Atmos personnel arrived at 12:20 p.m. and immediately turned off the gas, she said.

There was no damage to the company’s exterior equipment, Coomes added. Other utilities were also shut off shortly after the storm struck, Ray said.

Mills said the building sustained significant damage in the “finished goods area” and lost power

“Officials at TGASK are making efforts to return the plant to production as quickly as possible,” Mills said. 

Futrell said HFD had two fire trucks at the scene, along with four ambulances and “several” command vehicles. Other responders visible at the plant included members of the Pembroke Fire Department, Hopkinsville Police Department, Kentucky State Police and Christian County Sheriff’s Department. 

The Emergency Communications Center received the call of the damage at the facility at 12:07 p.m. and the first responders were dispatched at 12:09, Futrell said.

 “God bless everyone who got out OK, we were all very lucky,” Gibson said.

Mills said Toyoda Gosei and TGASK want to thank people for their thoughts and prayers, and will provide more information about the status of the plant as it becomes available.

Reach Dave Boucher at 270-887-3262 or dboucher@kentuckynewera.com or Ben Joubert at 270-887-3240 or bjoubert@kentuckynewera.com

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7 comments:

  • dreamer posted at 6:31 pm on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    dreamer Posts: 1

    My prayers go out to all the TGASK team members who were PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY injured by the tornado. It's ashame that warnings were going off in Hopkinsville and Pembroke and TGASK HR didn't take it serious. Seems to me that they do not care about there people's SAFETY. If the workers would have been allowed to go too the restroom to take shelter maybe no one would have gotten hurt. I was told that there was no damage done to the restroom. It's ashame that they left the workers on the floor during a tornado warning just to get PRODUCTION. Is MONEY really more important than peoples LIVES!!!!

     
  • nett66 posted at 4:03 pm on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    nett66 Posts: 5

    I can't believe that Mr. Doughman is saying that HR did not know about the tornado warning, when I was told that a couple of team-leaders asked him if they needed to take cover. He said that it was not necessay, yet he and other supervisors were in the break-room eating and looking out the window and then took cover when the tornado hit. There were tornado watches out for Monday, which was on the news all weekend. I have worked with Mr. Doughman at another plant and he is all about production and not about the people. He claims he cares about saftey, yet when I worked under him, that was not true. I took several saftey issues to him, and he avoided them. All he wanted to do was smoke cigarettes all day. I hope that all of the injured have a speedy recovery. You are in my prayers.

     
  • dellaoliver posted at 11:14 am on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    dellaoliver Posts: 1

    [thumbdown] SORRY TO HERE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO EVERYONE HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER, I DON'T THINK ANYONE SHOULD GO BACK TO WORK AT THIS TIME TO ME IT WOULD I NOT FEEL SAFE, I CAN'T BELIVE THEY ASKED THEM TO COME BACK THAT SOON, I HOPE ALL OF THE EMPLOYES ARE SAFE AS THEY RETURN TO WORK [unsure]

     
  • OurGodReigns posted at 11:16 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    OurGodReigns Posts: 5

    Wow, how awful that they were not allowed to take cover! I used to work at T.Rad (across the road from T-Gask) and when there were warnings for the area, we were told to go to the tornado shelters (bathrooms). That is just horrible, and I'm sure this won't be the last you hear of it!

     
  • crashcrad posted at 10:42 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    crashcrad Posts: 18

    I'm very sorry to hear about the workers ,whom were hurt and yes they need counseling , and pay for this trauma. I was let go do I had a heartattack. that could not be helped . this was 8 yrs ago. what ashame . God Bless those workers. Pat

     
  • crashcrad posted at 10:39 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    crashcrad Posts: 18

    yes Its very sad I do feel sorry for the many workers , BUT I do believe in KARMA and thats what it really was do to everything around the area (factories, shops and resturants ) survived but T-Gask was the only one hit hard. I was done very wrong by them (staff) they don't care abouth the employees just the all mighty dollar. that place never did have the protection for the workers . in case something like this happened . and Yes they dont care to protect the workers ,JUST MAKE THE PRODUCTIION .

     
  • nett66 posted at 8:22 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    nett66 Posts: 5

    It is very sad how TGASK received the tornado warning, but did not allow their workers to take cover. The HR manager said that everyone would be ok. My sister said that she had to crawl under a table. The table kept trying to fly away, and a piece of metal hit a pole in front of her. Eventhough she was not cut, she still very afraid and is still not over it. A TGASK teamleader called her and told her to report to work tomorrow. I feel that TGASK should have offered counseling, or called each of the workers who were in the back and had to hold on for their lives to see how they are feeling. Instead, the only thing they are concerned about is getting those people back to work in an unstable building. Those people are not construction workers or mechanics. I sure hope that everyone stay safe.