UPDATE: More than 130,000 people still without power

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Big Sandy RECC lineman inspects downed tree and power lines in the Oil Springs/Picklefork area of Johnson County, Kentucky.  Photo: Big Sandy RECC

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A cascade of downed electric lines and snapped utility poles Monday evening fueled a wave of power outages, primarily in southeastern and eastern Kentucky, when a second winter storm in less than a week tacked on another layer of crippling ice for rural electric cooperatives across the region.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Power says it has about 55,000 customers without power, down from 58,000 earlier Tuesday. And warming stations have been opened in a number of communities.

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Approximately 4,000 of those customers are from the original storm on February 11.

There are customers without power in many counties, but the majority of them are in Boyd, Carter, Johnson, and Lawrence counties.

Power restoration will be a multi-day event lasting for some through the week. Estimated Times of Restoration are not available as damage assessment is still underway to understand the full extent of work. 

Warming Stations available

Breathitt County

First Church of God (1772 Hwy 30 W, Jackson) is open as a warming center.  Contact Breathitt County Emergency Services for more details 606-666-3815. 

Boyd County

Boyd County Convention and Arts Center 15605 KY-180 Catlettsburg

Center is open 24 hours a day.  It has chairs and cots; social distancing guidelines will be enforced.  National Guard Crews are on site to assist in operations and transportation to the center.  Anyone who needs assistance should call Boyd County Emergency Operations Center at 606-393-1801 or 606-393-1842.

Carter County

First Baptist Church of Grayson (162 North Court Street, Grayson) is open as a warming center.  The church is open 24 hours a day.

Knott County

The following location are open as warming stations:

  • Hindman Volunteer Fire Department, 89 Cowtown Road, Hindman
  • Human Services Center, 40 Center Street, Hindman
  • Fisty Volunteer Fire Department, 1736 Trace Branch Road, Fisty    s
  • Kite Topmost Volunteer Fire Department, 10018 S Highway 7, Kite
  • Lotts Creek Volunteer Fire Department, 6894 Lotts Creek Road, Lotts Creek
  • Vicco Sassafras Volunteer Fire and Rescue, 357 Main Street, Vicco

If you need additional assistance, contact Knott County Emergency Management 606-785-9386 or 606-276-7178 or Jeff Dobson, County Judge Executive 606-785-5592.

Letcher County

Letcher Co Recreation Center (1505 Jenkins Rd, Whitesburg) is open as a warming center. Contact Letcher County Emergency Management for more information 606-633-0429. 

Magoffin County

Lloyd M. Hall Community Center (88 Church House Road, Salyersville) is open as a warming center.  Contact Magoffin County Emergency Management for more details 606-349-2313. 

Perry County

Perry Co Courthouse (481 Main St, Hazard)

Contact Perry County Emergency Management for more information 606-439-1816.

Rowan County

A warming center at the Laughlin Building (Morehead University Campus) is open for citizens who need to stay warm during the outage. There is a lot of space at this facility, and social distancing guidelines will still be able to be enforced, and masks are available. The doors are unlocked Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Call 606-207-5028 if you require entry after these hours.

MEANWHILE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES report multiple broken poles as co-op crews work to restore power to the more than 100,000 co-op consumer-members who lost service because of the ice storm.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, power had been restored to about 20,000 co-op members, as crews work to restore power to the remaining 77,000 members. The scope and comprehensive damage to co-op systems suggests a prolonged outage.

“Given the immense restoration challenge, if you are currently without power, it is advisable to prepare for days without service, with the likelihood that it will take more than a week to restore power to all members,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association which supports the locally owned and operated cooperatives.

In addition to each co-op’s own crews and contractors, mutual aid crews from Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana are also assisting with power restoration. About 275 mutual aid crewmembers are responding, an assistance effort that is a hallmark of the electric cooperative program. In fact, several of the co-ops sending crews to help Kentucky recover from the ice storm have in the past received help from Kentucky co-op crews after natural disasters.

The recovery effort is boosted by an ample supply of electrical supplies from Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative. Ahead of last week’s ice storm, UUS moved material from its other warehouses to Kentucky and placed key vendors on alert to be ready to bolster supplies. UUS serves electric cooperatives in 17 states with a complete line of materials critical to the electric utility industry, such as transformers, conductor (electric wires), poleline hardware, grounding equipment, utility poles, tools, and safety supplies.

Even as recovery efforts progress, trees and power lines could still succumb to the accumulated ice, more than one-inch in some areas. Co-ops urge their members to avoid downed lines.

“The added weight may cause lines to snap off the poles or cause the poles to break,” Perry explained. “That can bring power lines into contact with the ground, trees, homes, vehicles and other objects. If people or pets come in contact with a live power line, they can suffer serious injury or even death.”

In addition, co-ops report that the primary cause of power outages in some areas of the state has been drivers losing control on black ice and striking utility poles.

“For everyone’s safety, we urge you to avoid travel unless completely necessary, and especially take great care when driving near power restoration crews,” said Charlie Lewis, a safety instructor with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “The top priority of electric cooperatives is safety. Co-op line technicians and mutual aid crews will work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

While indoors, those without power will turn their focus to staying warm. If homes are not using a generator, keep warm air in and cool air out by not opening doors to unused rooms. Do not open doors to the outdoors unless necessary.

Food safety is also important when there is a prolonged outage. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, and eat perishable food first. Keep food items in coolers and packed with ice to keep them from going bad if an outage lasts longer than a day. Once the refrigerator reaches temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, foods can become unsafe to eat.

To protect homes’ electrical equipment during an outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics or appliances. This will keep equipment from being damaged by surges or spikes when the power returns.

Once an outage is over, there are still safety precautions to take. Electrical power lines could still be down. If you see downed power lines, do not touch them. Call your local co-op or 911.


UPDATE AS OF 7:25 A.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 2021

146,724 PEOPLE STILL WITHOUT POWER, ALL IN EASTERN KENTUCKY.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 11:35 P.M. MONDAY, FEB. 15, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The number of people who lost power Monday night in central and eastern Kentucky went up dramatically as another round of freezing rain moved through the region.

According to poweroutage.us, which tracks an estimated two million power customers in the state, as of 11:32 p.m., there were 147,585 people without power.  For comparison, at 5:30 p.m., the number was 35,082.

Kentucky saw a little bit of everything on Monday with sleet, freezing rain and snow in central Kentucky, sleet and freezing rain in eastern and southern Kentucky and mainly a cold rain in the far southeastern corner of the state.

The system was expected to move-out of the state overnight; however, another storm system is expected by Thursday, which could bring more snow, but forecast models are still in flux.  One thing that is certain, it will be cold all week, with some overnight lows in the single-digits and teens.

To see the latest power outage map for Kentucky, click here.

 

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.