A Life Uprooted:

One Year After the December 2021 Tornadoes

Photo, writing & B-roll by Emilee Arnold; interview & video editing by Brett Phelps. Originally published in the WKU Talisman.

On Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, a long-track tornado swept the western Kentucky region, claiming the lives of 80 people, according to Governor Andy Beshear. Its 165-mile path was the ninth-longest tornado path ever recorded in the U.S, causing up to $3.5 billion in damage, according to the National Weather Service.

A year after the storm, some families are still coping with life-altering changes.

When the storm came, Gary and Barbara Morgan of Dawson Springs were in their home. Gary said that in “30 seconds at most,” the tornado destroyed all but one room in their home and leveled their block, trapping them and killing three of their neighbors. After remaining trapped for hours, the two were eventually rescued, but the rest of their home was left in ruins.

Memories Found

The area of Dawson Springs where the Morgan family lived was devastated by the tornado’s destruction. The majority of their belongings were either destroyed or swept away by the tornado.

When the Morgans found several items that were untouched or were returned from strangers in surrounding cities, they felt as if they had gained back small pieces of their life. 

Some of those items salvaged from the tornado can be seen below. Click photos for captions.

Using Format