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Devastated Bowling Green neighborhood taking it one day at a time in wake of tornado

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Rhonda J. Miller
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Residents still in shock and volunteers with chainsaws continue the cleanup following Saturday’s brutal tornado in Bowling Green.

One of those scenes played out on a winding street in Warren County called Stonebridge Lane.

One of the volunteers out with a chainsaw cutting away fallen trees on Sunday was Paul Banks, plant manager at Logan Aluminum in Russellville.

“Logan has 1,500 employees and we have people living in all the surrounding communities, so just out checking. A couple of the folks who work at Logan, one of ‘em lives right here," said Banks. "So we’re trying to get people to where they can get their cars out of their driveway so they can travel.”

Another volunteer was Mona Hoyle who came down with a few members of her Louisville Bible study group. Hoyle was offering supplies and Angie Gwathney was accepting some. 

“Toilet paper, I have kerosene for heaters,” said Hoyle.

“We probably need toilet paper,” said Angie Gwathney.

“Well, I’ve got a bunch here, ” Hoyle said. 

As Gwathney stood amid the rubble of what used to be her home, she said it’s still hard to believe the power of the tornado. 

She said she was running to get her mother out of bed as tornado sirens blared. Her two daughters, one of them pregnant and one with a toddler, were rushed safely into the basement by Gwathney’s fiancé. 

But Gwathney didn’t get to her mother fast enough to avoid the wrath of the tornado.

“It just went ‘woosh’ and the wind picked me up and threw me out in the yard and when I come to, I was in the mud,” said Gwathney.

She said her mother was also thrown outside and is in the hospital with a broken back.

Gwathney said the family is staying in a hotel for a few weeks.

“My fiancé, he works for Raising Cane's chicken, it’s a chicken place. And they actually rented us a room and a rental car because we lost all four vehicles," said Gwathney. "I mean we lost everything.”

Her daughter, Jada Gwathney says her two-year-old’s life was saved by the quick action her mother’s fiancé and she’s thankful for their survival. Aside from that, she’s just beginning to get over the shock. 

“I never imagined anything happening like this," said Jada Gwathney. "I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

As they stood on the rubble of their completely destroyed home, Angie and Jada Gwathney are doing what  others in Bowling Green and many other impacted communities in the region are doing – they're taking it one day at a time. 

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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