FRANKFORT - Last Friday, I left Frankfort with reports of storms moving into Kentucky. My words walking out of the Capitol were, "I am going east to the hills, where I will be safe from the storms." Little did I know that a few miles south, lives would be changed forever -- that my life would be changed forever.
After the tornado ripped through West Liberty, I went there to see Rep. Stacy and Judge Conley and to check on many friends there. Morgan County is in the Judicial District with Carter and Elliot counties and I have grown up going to the sorghum festival, showing horses, hunting, visiting friends and practicing law there. Some of my oldest and dearest friends lost everything.
The destruction was widespread. From the hospital and the elementary school to the quaint and picturesque Main Street and downtown, the tornado stayed on the ground, following the valley in over a mile of constant destruction.
Fatalities were in several of our counties, but, on arriving in West Liberty, I learned of the loss of Emmadean and Wilmer Cecil. Emmadean was the longtime secretary for our Circuit Judges, most recent Judge Sam Long. She was the quintessential lady and legal secretary. Before modern technology, mass computerization, law clerks, family court and other amenities, she helped operate a three county court system, involving multi-million dollar litigation, capital murder, families and many other docket entries.
As a young lawyer, she was a blessing to me, always having a story, a place for respite, a smile, cup of coffee, a typewriter, or more importantly, advice on navigating the court system and legal world. I always listened and when she retired, I missed her. I will continue to miss her now. I hope she and Wilmer were not scared and their passing was blessed -- I know that heaven got angels that day from the Morgan County tornado.
Love and prayers go out to all affected, including my friends from Owenton to Hager Hill who lost businesses, homes and especially loved ones. The day-to-day routine of our lives was put into perspective that day and the constants that remain are our faith, family, friends and community. That is what we are here to serve.