Taylor Co. family rebuilds
six months after tornado

The Wooldridge family is busy constructing their new house after Dec. tornadoes leveled their home. Nine houses on the half-mile-long Sanders Road in Campbellsville, Ky., were destroyed. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Six months after tornadoes swept across Kentucky and several bordering states, a half-mile stretch of road in Taylor County is dotted with new construction.

The night of December 10, 2021, nine houses along Sanders Road were destroyed by unseasonable storms. The Wooldridge family of Campbellsville in Taylor County survived, as did their neighbors, but their home did not.

However, according to Courtney Wooldridge, in the wake of the tornadoes, “south-central Kentucky has shown people how it’s done in taking care of people.”
She and her husband Mitchell and their two daughters took shelter in the basement of their home before it was ripped off the foundation around 3:15 a.m. As soon as the winds quieted, sitting in the rubble remains of their house, and “while the tornado was probably still on the ground up the road, my husband says, ‘I guess we can look at floor plans,’ ” Wooldridge said, laughing.

An aerial view of the Wooldridge family’s property in Taylor County, Ky., shows the destruction left by a tornado that swept through the region in Dec. 2021.

She said although she now has “a whole new respect for Job,” the community has helped get her family through the toughest parts.

Local churches cooked meals for the first three weeks thanks to monetary and food donations. Wooldridge’s coworkers donated clothes and shoes, even meeting her at the shoe store in town to buy new pairs for the family. The Amish community, members of local churches and university sports teams came together to walk through the fields, looking for anything salvageable that was left behind.

Mitchell Wooldridge surveyed the remains of his house after a tornado ripped it from the foundation in Dec. 2021. His family took shelter in what used to be the living room of their basement. (Photo Special to The Record)

“If we had not had our community, I don’t know what we would have done,” Wooldridge said. “God provides. He knows what you’re going to need before you need it. … Sometimes I couldn’t keep up with how fast the Lord was providing.”

The Wooldridges are one of six families in Taylor County that received part of a donation made by the Archdiocese of Louisville to tornado relief efforts.

Although they don’t attend a Catholic church in the area, Wooldridge said her mother-in-law is a parishioner of Our Lady of the Hills Church, one of three clustered parishes in Campbellsville.

The front porch of the Wooldridge family’s house led not to the front door but down into the basement after unseasonable tornadoes destroyed the home in Dec. 2021. (Photo Special to The Record)

“These churches that we don’t attend, people we don’t know are willing to trust us with their money,” Wooldridge, a member of Elkhorn Baptist Church, said. “It makes you believe in humanity again.”

A local contractor offered to build their new house, which Wooldridge affectionately calls their “lottery house.”

“This is the house we were going to build if we ever won the lottery that we don’t play,” she said while standing in the unfinished garage attached to the house they’re building.

Members of the community in Campbellsville, Ky., helped raise the walls of the Wooldridge family’s new home in March. (Photo Special to The Record)

Construction began in January and should be complete by December, Wooldridge said. She’s very hopeful that the family will be able to spend Christmas in their new home.

The cleanup and construction processes have been ecumenical efforts, Wooldridge said. And long after the news vans left, the community is still showing up to help.

“We’ve had the Amish, Catholics, Baptists, nondenominational people” assisting from the beginning to now, she said. “People who don’t go to church have seen what happens when God’s people come together. It has been unreal.”

The first visitors to the new house have been a family of doves that made a nest in the porch rafters.

Wooldridge said the doves are like a sign from God.

“It’s like they’re telling us, ‘Yes Lord, we see you.’ If you look, you’ll find him.”

Construction on the Wooldridge’s new home began in January and will hopefully be complete by Christmas. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

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