Anna Herdt and her niece crouched in a bathtub, trying not to listen as a howling tornado blew their house into a pile of bricks.
"The first thing I said was `Thank you, Lord,' because I don't know how I survived," Herdt said after riding out one of the tornadoes that wrecked hundreds of homes in the suburbs south of Louisville on Tuesday night."I'll remember that sound for as long as I live."
About 750 homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, but no one was killed. Only eight or nine people were treated at hospitals, and 30 to 35 others were treated at the scene, said Joe Laswell, a Bullitt County emergency official.
One man was killed by lightning as the same storm system swept through neighboring Indiana.
More thunderstorms were possible Wednesday across much of the Midwest, the South and the mid-Atlantic region.
Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton was traveling out the country, but his office authorized the deployment of more than 60 National Guardsmen. Curfews were ordered for storm-stricken areas, and authorities planned to fly over the area Wednesday to get a better idea of the damage.
One tornado touched down around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday near the Bullitt-Jefferson county line, and another hit around 6:55 p.m. at Mount Washington, said John Bollinger of the National Weather Service in Louisville.
State Rep. Allen Maricle had just picked his 7-year-old son up from a baseball game and was driving in the storm. The tornado picked up his truck and set it back down, he said.
"We are so lucky," said Maricle, whose house was also damaged. "This thing was close to a quarter mile long. I've been through a tornado before, but this was incredible."
Hundreds of residents spent the night with relatives and at shelters. Many residents frantically tried to reach their relatives at a Baptist church, although most telephones were out of order.
"It's a sad situation," said emergency medical technician Lana Sanders. "Right now, they're trying to call looking for husbands, wives, children."
About 15,000 Louisville Gas & Electric customers lost power in a 17-county area. LG&E and other utilities said about 6,000 still were blacked out Wednesday morning.