CALDWELL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – The University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture suffered a loss in last weekend’s tornado in western Kentucky.
Located in Caldwell County, the research and education center had more than 50 different buildings, and all of those buildings were heavily damaged as they sat directly in the path of the tornado.
The research farm of 1,400 acres had specialized equipment and lab equipment that was destroyed. More than 200 head of cattle graze there, and we’re told a few didn’t make it.
The main building just had a ribbon cutting in 2019.
“The majority of the buildings, including that main building, were directly in the middle of the path of the tornado,” Doctor Chad Lee said.
Lee is an agricultural extension professor at the facility.
“It is a punch to the gut when you look at it. It’s overwhelming the amount of devastation. You have tree lines and fence lines ripped out and removed,” Lee said.
The research and education center focuses on applied research designed to help farmers raise crops, beef cattle, and economic research for profit margins.
“That research facility addressed a lot of immediate needs in this region, but it extended into a lot of the state. Some of the research done here has completely changed agriculture in Argentina and Brazil,” Lee said.
Sixty-eight people worked there, but no one was hurt because the tornado swept through while the offices were closed.
UK has had a presence there since 1925. The oldest building was constructed in the mid-1930s.
“There is no single camera lens that adequately captures the extent of damage that was done,” Lee said.
Dr. Lee said hearts are broken over the devastation, but spirits are not.
“We will work through this and we will build another research station and we will maintain our commitment in western Kentucky,” Lee said.
Some of the workers from the research farm lost their homes to the tornado. Area farmers have been out to the facility to help clean up and offer equipment.