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As nearby areas spend the weekend repairing and cleaning storm damage, many Oldham County parents are wondering why school officials kept students in school Friday afternoon.
In an email sent to South Oldham Middle School parents through the One Call emergency notification system, Principal Rob Clayton said students would not be dismissed early.
“Our thought is that students are safer at school and dismissing early would put younger students at home without parents to meet them,” Clayton wrote.
The email advised parents if a tornado warning was in effect at 3:30 p.m., all students would be held until the warning cleared.
“Of course, if parents want to come pick up their children early, they can certainly do so,” he wrote.
Clayton added that Oldham County Schools officials had been in contact with the National Weather Service and would continue to assess the weather situation.
But when the NWS issued a tornado warning for Oldham County at 3:50 p.m. Friday, many middle and highs chool students were riding school busses home.
According to Rick McHargue, assistant superintendent, all students were delivered home safely before 4:30 p.m.
However, the NWS issued the tornado warning for 3:50-4:15 p.m., followed by a severe thunderstorm warning.
Parent Julie Williams Armor wrote to The Era to express concerns.
“What if there had been a tornado here like the one in Henryville (where) the bus slammed into a building?” she asked.
Many businesses in Oldham County closed by 2 p.m., including county government offices.
The La Grange Community Center remained open, as it serves as an emergency shelter for the area, director Josh Lewis said.
About 25 people took cover in the center Friday afternoon, watching the storm’s progression on television, playing board games and reading books. Some brought their pets.
Individuals, businesses join tornado relief efforts
Once the storms passed through the region, Oldham County residents began rallying relief efforts.
The Couture Closet bridal boutique in La Grange donated 5 percent of all sales Saturday to the Red Cross.
Q&A Sweet Treats owner Andrea Essenpreis collected items to donate to the Red Cross, including clothing, blankets and bulk food items.
Locust Grove Elementary’s spring fling, hosted Saturday night, also had a booth to collect donations for the relief effort.
Numerous first responders headed to affected areas to provide assistance on a volunteer basis.
Individuals from the North Oldham, La Grange, Ballardsville and South Oldham fire departments traveled to Trimble County, where one of the fire stations suffered significant damage.
“We lost a station, an engine, a fish fry trailer, ice trailer, gear, radios and pagers,” said Milton Fire and Rescue Chief Jason Long.
Long said one department member was inside the building during the tornado but was not hurt.
“The only part left standing was the small part he was in,” he said.
Long thanked all the individuals who volunteered assistance and said he “can’t say thanks enough” for the support.
While Kentucky remains in a state of emergency, no fire department or other first responders can be deployed work relief efforts in Indiana, however, many trained personnel have volunteered on their own time.
Rescue and relief efforts across Kentucky and Indiana continued throughout the weekend.
Those wishing to provide assistance through volunteer work or donations should contact the Oldham County chapter of the American Red Cross at 222-0308.