Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with David Powell, February 18, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:24 - Introduction / Role as a Weather Spotter

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Partial Transcript: This interview is part of the West Kentucky 2021 Tornado Resiliency project.

Segment Synopsis: Powell discusses his role as a storm spotter in Christian County and he talks about the storm spotting certification and training processes.

Keywords: Certification process; Christian County Weather Spotter Network; Elite spotters; Emergency Management Service; National Weather Service; Severe weather; Storm; Storm spotters

Subjects: United States. National Weather Service

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: 36.9, -87.49
00:01:59 - Experience with the Tornado on December 10th

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Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about the Christian County Weather Center and monitoring the storms on December 10, 2021. He recalls monitoring the storm in Arkansas as it moved into Kentucky, and specifically talks about the intensity of the storm, the devastation in Mayfield, Kentucky and concerns about loss of life.

Keywords: 2021 Kentucky tornados; Christian County Weather Center; First responders; Radar signature; Storm spotters; Tornado devastation; Tornadoes; Weather operations; Western Kentucky

Subjects: Arkansas; Christian County (Ky.); Dawson Springs (Ky.); Mayfield (Ky.); Natural Disasters--United States; Princeton (Ky.); Radar; Storms; Tornadoes; United States. National Weather Service

GPS: Mayfield (Ky.)

Map Coordinates: 36.735997056 -88.637330784
GPS: Dawson Springs (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.171667, -87.689167
GPS: Princeton (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.107778, -87.8825
00:07:00 - Personal and Professional Stress / Beginning the Relief Effort

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, we talk about the mental stress being a lot for even our people who are responding, and also, I guess, the people who went through it.

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about the stresses felt by first responders the evening of the storm and the following day, as well as being active in the relief effort and helping begin the process of accumulating and disseminating supplies.

Keywords: Stress; Supplies; Tornado relief effort; Trauma

Subjects: Natural disasters--United States; Tornado damage; Tornadoes; Volunteers

00:08:16 - Responding to Weather Events at Night

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Partial Transcript: Another question I had, how does an event like this taking place at night, change the way you respond?

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about noticing that tornados are becoming more frequent east of the traditional "tornado alley," and discusses the increasing frequency of severe weather events occurring over night.

Keywords: Danger; Dixie Alley; Responses; Terrain; Tornado Alley; Training

Subjects: Tornadoes

00:10:04 - Relief Efforts

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Partial Transcript: So, David, let's talk a little more about relief efforts.

Segment Synopsis: Powell reflects on relief efforts, including a specific example of receiving a truckload of supplies from the Israeli Consulate. Powell then discusses the specific supplies needed and the process of disseminating the supplies.

Keywords: Clothing; Diapers; Relief efforts; Supplies

Subjects: Diaster Relief; Disaster relief; Food; Natural Disasters--United States; Water

00:12:26 - Lessons Learned and Trauma

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Partial Transcript: I know we talked to some of the people in the National Weather Service and they are doing after action reports to try to figure out what happened, what could be better, how could we make our response...in the event that there is another tornado, what can we do better

Segment Synopsis: Powell describes the trauma felt by spotters and relief workers, and discusses recruiting more people into the spotting program and collaboration on training future spotters.

Keywords: After Action reports; Anemometers; NWS; Recruitment; Spotter training; Spotters; Trauma

Subjects: Natural disasters--United States; Tornadoes; United States. National Weather Service

00:15:28 - Wind Speeds that Evening

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Partial Transcript: So David, you mentioned anemometers and measuring wind speed.

Segment Synopsis: Powell discusses the wind speeds observed that night, and recalls seeing readings of sixty to seventy miles per hour winds.

Keywords: Anemometers; Spotters; Wind speed

Subjects: Storms; Tornadoes; Winds--speed

00:16:39 - Community Reaction and Resiliance

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Partial Transcript: So, we appreciate you coming on. You talked a lot about the positives of the community coming together. Is there anything else you want to touch on in that aspect?

Segment Synopsis: Powell reflects on the public response to the tornado and how communities have come together to help. He specifically talks about the devastation of Dawson Springs, Kentucky and the resilience of the people there.

Keywords: Communities; Relief; Resilience

Subjects: Dawson Springs (Ky.); Disaster relief; Kentucky; Tornadoes

GPS: Dawson Springs (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.171667, -87.689167