LAKEVIEW — “I’ll never forget hearing her call for help,” said Kentucky tornado victim Alisha Bishop. Bishop and her children had just had their home fall around their heads in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, but it was the aftermath that she said weighed on her mind the most. Dawson Springs had twin tornadoes tear through their town of almost 2,800 on Friday night, Dec. 10. The tornadoes were part of a tremendously destructive storm front that swept through the Midwest Friday night to Saturday morning, taking an estimated 88 lives in Kentucky with more than 100 still unaccounted for.
“One of the rescuers put an injured woman in my car to get her out of the rain,” said Bishop. “She kept hollering for help.” But the police did not come for two or three hours and she died before she was reached. In regards to other injuries and deaths, “I still think there are more people out there than they are admitting.”
Bishop said she and her children, Kaylee Sharpe, 15, Owen Wirgau, 17, and Hailey Wirgau, 19, had not sought shelter because repeated tornado warnings through the evening had lulled them into a false sense of security. So at 10 pm, she had only moments before “the electricity kind of glitched and then it went pitch black.” Then daughter Kaylee said “I heard a train…realized we didn’t have a train here and knew we were in trouble.” Within moments, the front and back doors were sucked into the house and glass was flying through air.
Other destruction rained down in about 2 minutes. The chimney fell into the house, missing two daughters by inches. Son Owen said he and a friend hung on to each other as they felt the wind trying to pull them out of the house. Mom Alisha watched their roof disappear. Once the tornado passed them over, they sheltered under mattresses for three hours, because they did not know if it was over because the electricity was out and the cell phones did not work.
When dawn came, Bishop and her family saw the full extent of the destruction and the curious things that remained, the latter of which included their pet turkey Tommy-Girl. “I kept telling Owen to let it go, Tommy Girl is gone,” she said, “But then Owen stood on top of his bus and he spotted her.”
Other oddities appeared. Owen said the television from his room was laying in the yard, along with the piece of the wall it was attached to. “It was still plugged in.”
Bishop said that although they had lost most of their possessions in the storm, “We are so much luckier than most of the people there because they had absolutely nothing left.” She added, “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this interview; because I wanted everyone to know how much they need help down there.”
While they spent two nights in a nearby motel, her father Richard Bishop took two trips in two days with a 14 foot trailer to pick up what they could save and deliver his daughter and family back to his Lakeview home, along with their three dogs and the injured pet turkey.
The turkey was taken to a local vet, Northside Animal Clinic in Bellefontaine, which Bishop said they treated free of charge.
Bishop said she has no plans at this point on when she might be able to return to Dawson Springs to her position as a meat cutter at a local supermarket. Teary-eyed, she said “I don’t know what I am going to do. My job is down there, but I have no place to stay.”
Ironically, the last time she was visiting her Lakeview family was in May 2018, when a string of tornadoes forced them to take shelter.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.