Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 31, 2013

Residents begin returning home

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — Residents of a downtown apartment building who were displaced when a storm blew part of the roof off the structure were expected to begin returning to their homes Friday evening, according to the director of the local American Red Cross chapter.

Vicki James, executive director of the Northeastern Kentucky Red Cross chapter, said Friday afternoon a structural engineer had examined Castle Apartments, 2275 Winchester Ave., and found the building to be structurally sound.

“That was certainly a blessing,” she said.

James said a fire inspection was the final hurdle that needed to be cleared before the building could be reopened to residents, and that was expected to take place Friday.

A total of 32 residents were forced to evacuate Castle Apartments Wednesday evening after the building was damaged by high winds. The roof over two apartments at the rear of the structure was torn off a portion of an elevated deck was blown down, James said.

The Red Cross was on the scene about 20 minutes the storm passed through and placed about half the residents in a local motel, James said. The others went to stay with family members and friends, she said.

James said the Red Cross would continue to work to find more permanent placement for the residents whose apartments were rendered uninhabitable by the damage to the building.

She said she was pleased with how smoothly and quickly getting most of the residents back into their homes had gone, and that a number of people and organizations had stepped up to assist the Red Cross during the crisis.

Those included the City of Ashland, which pushed to expedite the process; the Loyal Order of Moose, which opened its building across the street to the residents after they were forced to evacuate; and CAReS and the Shelter of Hope, both of which helped meet the residents’ needs while they were displaced.

James had special praise for Allen Bocook of Mary’s Kitchen Catering, who was driving by Castle Apartments the night of the storm, saw the commotion there and stopped and asked what he could do help. He wound up serving meals to the residents.

“He was like an angel coming out of the darkness,” James said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.