UPDATE: As of 4 p.m., 27,000 electric co-op customers still without power

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UPDATE STORY POSTED 5:15 P.M. FEB. 19, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With some power outages in Eastern Kentucky in their 10th day, electric cooperative crews on Friday continued to address major damage to the system, including snapped poles.

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Efforts have been complicated by debris, blocked roads and relentless falling trees, branches and ice.

With a rebuild of significant parts of electric systems necessary, co-ops in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky continue to gradually but urgently restore power. Co-ops began Friday with about 36,000 consumer-members without power.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, that figure had dropped to 27,601. At the height of the outages, more than 100,000 consumer-members were without power on Tuesday morning.


Despite the many challenges restoring power after successive winter storms, one factor that has not been a problem is access to the material and equipment to replace damaged and destroyed infrastructure.

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are cooperative owners of United Utility Supply Cooperative, which has been able to deliver all of the critical materials, such as transformers, conductor (electric wires), hardware, grounding equipment, utility poles, tools, and safety supplies.

Though crews welcome the forecast for temperatures in the 40s and 50s this weekend, thawing ice and snow can also cause trees and branches to “rebound” or “snap” back from the decreased weight, breaking and coming down on power lines and causing new outages.

Local co-op crews are getting assistance from about 800 additional personnel, including 331 mutual aid workers from electric cooperatives in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana. Co-ops have also brought in hundreds more contractors to assist as the eastern half of the state continues to recover from the succession of three winter storms in eight days.

“Because electric cooperatives serve the ‘last mile’ in some of the most remote and rural areas of Kentucky, including the forests and mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the recovery from natural disasters such as these ice storms can be a long and arduous process,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association which supports local co-ops. “That’s why we have been urging Kentuckians to prepare for prolonged outages, since the first forecasts predicted significant ice accumulation. Know we are working as quickly as we safely can.”

With Kentucky in a State of Emergency, the National Guard is assisting with getting members to warming centers, food, water, medicine and oxygen.  Co-ops continue to encourage members in need of assistance or supplies to contact their local County Judge Executive’s Office (Fiscal Court) or the County Emergency Director for guidance and assistance.

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.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 5:15 P.M. FEB. 18, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Even as 1,000 line technicians, tree-trimmers and mutual aid workers make progress on rebuilding the electrical infrastructure severely damaged in the succession of three winter storms in eight days, electric cooperatives in eastern and southeastern Kentucky are experiencing additional outages Thursday.

After an initial decrease of total outage numbers Thursday morning to about 36,000 consumer-members without power, the tally for all affected co-ops has remained about 40,000 for most of the day. As of 5 p.m., 41,329 co-op members are without power statewide.

In addition to some trees ultimately breaking from the stress of several days of heavy ice and snow, as the ice and snow melts from some tree limbs, the branches are “rebounding” or “snapping” back from the decreased weight and then breaking and coming down on power lines and causing outages.

Also complicating the restoration effort is the additional precipitation overnight and today, which dumped as much as six inches of snow in some co-op areas.

“As we feared, the scope and scale of the damage suggests a prolonged outage. 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. “As member-owned utilities, our cooperatives greatly appreciate the understanding of co-op consumer-members. Know we are working as quickly as we safely can.”

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. With more crews responding Thursday, the number of mutual aid crewmembers is now at 324 line technicians.

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, or “rebound” during thawing. Co-ops urge their members to avoid downed lines.

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.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 2 P.M. THURSDAY, FEB. 18, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) crews worked overnight and into Thursday morning to maintain mobility along critical routes across the state following the third winter storm to strike the commonwealth in a week.

More than half of customers impacted by power outages in Eastern Kentucky have had power restored.

“State road crews and contractors have been focusing on high-priority routes, and in some areas they are tackling secondary routes as well,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “In Eastern and Northeastern Kentucky especially, the challenge of clearing roads continues to be made more difficult by downed trees and power lines. Electricity has been restored to approximately 85,000 customers after outages peaked at 154,000. That’s substantial progress, but much work remains to be done until power is restored to every Kentuckian who has been impacted.”

KYTC Secretary Jim Gray extended an official order that temporarily suspends certain restrictions on commercial vehicles engaged in relief efforts, including utility trucks and carriers delivering fuel and other supplies to the stricken area. The extension runs to Feb. 28.

The Governor said the State Emergency Operations Center is currently activated at Level 3, supporting the power outage response and the winter storm recovery. As of Thursday morning, 51 counties and 31 cities have declared states of emergency.

Weather Update

  • Multiple rounds of wintry weather crossed Kentucky overnight and will continue in some areas of the state, tapering off Thursday night.
  • Kentucky has received snow, sleet, freezing rain and cold rain through this system.
  • Frostbite and hypothermia can occur if people are outdoors for extended periods of time, especially in single-digit temperatures.
  • Winter storm warnings and advisories are still current for Kentucky. To learn more, click here.

Power Outages

  • There are widespread outages across Eastern and Sortheastern Kentucky. As of noon EST, there were 70,249 Kentucky customers without power, with numerous counties reporting downed trees.
  • Power has been restored to approximately 85,000 customers after outages peaked at more than 154,000.
  • Power outages have also impacted traffic signals. Treat dark signals as four-way stops.
  • Clearing downed trees is an ongoing task in impacted areas. Division of Forestry crews are out in high-impact areas. Kentucky National Guard teams are on standby to assist the Forestry crews to remove cut debris.
  • Friday afternoon Kentucky State Police (KSP) will fly Kentucky Power employees to Eastern Kentucky to assist in power restoration efforts.
  • Kentuckians experiencing a downed power line or power outage should contact their local utility company. Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows. Never use an outdoor grill, gas stovetop or gas oven to heat your home. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm for more information.

“Utility companies are moving as quickly as possible to restore power to our hardest hit eastern and southeastern counties,” said Michael Dossett, director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. “Team Kentucky is assisting with Division of Forestry saw teams, National Guard soldiers providing wellness checks and transportation of citizens to warming centers, our Public Service Commission and Division of Water monitoring power outages and plant operations, along with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s important role of clearing major roadways and statewide storm response. A heartfelt thank-you to all of our community volunteers, agencies and emergency services personnel engaged in this important recovery mission.”

Road Conditions

  • KYTC crews are treating and plowing statewide and report most highly traveled priority A routes are passable. Plows are making headway on secondary, lower-volume routes. In eastern and Northeastern Kentucky, the challenge of clearing roadways continues to be made even more difficult by countless downed trees and power lines.
  • All 16 KSP posts report for the third straight day that roads, particularly neighborhood and side roads, are snow-covered, slick and hazardous. At this time, KSP reports no interstate closures; however, portions of Interstate 75 around Richmond have one lane open.
  • While Ashland has no major road closures, several side roads are closed due to downed trees, and a significant number of Kentuckians remain without power.
  • Even if roads appear clear, drivers should still use caution. Freezing drizzle and black ice pose an invisible danger to drivers on the road. Drivers are reminded to slow down, buckle up and leave a large space cushion between other vehicles on the road. Kentuckians are urged to tune in to local media for information on weather, and visit snowky.ky.gov for snow and ice resources and goky.ky.gov to check road conditions.
  • A majority of KSP Driver Testing Branch locations are closed for the remainder of the week but are expected to reopen next week. Appointments will be automatically rescheduled for citizens who had written permit and skills tests scheduled for this week. Applicants do not need to reschedule online.

“Crews still have their work cut out for them even after this last round of precipitation ends this evening,” said Secretary Gray. “Single-digit temperatures this weekend will keep ice and snow around for some time, but the break in precipitation will give crews a chance to maintain passable lanes plows have already cleared. We appreciate the patience from the public and ask all drivers to use caution if they have to travel.”

Wellness Support

  • More than 80 Kentucky National Guardsmen are currently assisting in Boyd, Carter, Crittenden, Elliott, Floyd, Jackson, Johnson, Laurel, Lawrence, Leslie, Magoffin, Menifee, Owsley, Rockcastle  and Rowan Counties.
  • Guardsmen are assisting with wellness checks, transporting those in need to warming stations and shelters, providing crews to transport medical staff and providing debris removal teams to assist the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
  • There are currently 23 warming centers open, with another 23 on standby. There are nine emergency shelters open, with one on standby.
  • KSP troopers are also responding to wellness checks and helping Kentuckians as needed. If you need help, please contact a KSP post directly. KSP is requesting Kentuckians only utilize 911 for emergencies. Phone numbers for local KSP posts can be found at kentuckystatepolice.org/post-locations.