UPDATE: Injured lineman released from hospital to rest, faces more surgeries

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UPDATE POSTED 10 P.M. SATURDAY, FEB. 27, 2021

WOLFE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Some good new this weekend. The Licking County Rural Electric Cooperative lineman who was injured in a 27-foot fall during the series of ice and snow events earlier this month was released Saturday from the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

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Scott Spencer was released to go home to rest but he still faces more surgeries on his broken shoulder and other injuries.

In a Facebook post, Licking River said Spencer is grateful for the prayers and well wishes he’s received for his recovery.

UPDATE POSTED 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 24, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – As of Wednesday afternoon, Kentucky electric cooperative crews, contractors and mutual aid line technicians had restored power to 95 percent of the consumer-members who lost service during the historic back-to-back-to back winter storms that walloped Kentucky earlier this month.

As of 5 p.m., about 5,200 co-op consumer-members were still without power Wednesday, down from the 100,000 without power at the peak of the natural disaster.

From the beginning of the eight-day weather event, co-ops in Northeastern Kentucky were hardest hit, with Grayson RECC most abused by the succession of crippling ice storms. The cooperative, which serves about 15,000 members in six counties, reports a staggering 200 broken poles in its service territory. Each pole replacement is a separate construction project.

“The damage I witnessed at Grayson RECC is as bad as anything I have seen in my career,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association which supports local co-ops. “We are thankful for the many sister cooperatives who are assisting with power restoration in very challenging terrain. Though it is very frustrating to be without power, we hope Grayson RECC members understand that this is a massive undertaking.”

It is also a dangerous undertaking. The Licking Valley RECC lineman who was seriously injured in Wolfe County on Tuesday is being treated at UK Healthcare in Lexington. The lineman faces lifelong consequences after he fell 27 feet as the pole he was climbing broke off just below the ground.

Approximately 1,000 personnel have been working to restore power in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky. Warming temperatures have replaced the ice and snow with mud and muck as co-op crews work 16-hour shifts to restore power. In addition to local co-op crews and contractors, mutual aid crews from Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana are also on the job.

“Each of the remaining outages will likely take longer to restore than the previous outages because of the challenging territory and the devastation caused by the ice,” Perry said. “These dedicated crews know how urgent the need is to restore power, and they are working as quickly as they safely can.”

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 6:30 P.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 25, 2021

WOLFE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative says a lineman helping restore power after recent winter storms fell off a pole he was working and was seriously hurt.

The co-op says it happened in Wolfe County Tuesday morning around 9:30 a.m.

The pole he was working on broke causing him to fall 27 feet to the ground, according to the co-op. The man was air-flighted to UK Hospital where he is expected to recover.

Full release from Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is below:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KY ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES) As electric cooperatives made more significant progress Tuesday restoring power in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky, a co-op lineman working to restore power in Wolfe County was seriously injured Tuesday morning when the pole he was climbing broke off just below the ground.

The Licking Valley RECC lineman had secured himself near the top of the pole in accordance with safety protocol when the pole broke. The veteran lineman fell 27 feet, making impact in a small creek in the Cave Branch area near Bethany. Fellow linemen rushed to his aid, releasing him from the pole restraints and rescuing him from the icy water. They wrapped the seriously injured lineman with their jackets to keep him warm until emergency crews arrived.

“We would like to thank Breathitt-Wolfe EMS for their quick response and Air-Evac for flying our lineman to the University of Kentucky Hospital,” said John May, Licking Valley RECC manager of administrative services. “We are all shaken but we will carry on. We ask that you keep him, his family and all his co-workers in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days.”

Messages of support and prayer have flooded into the Southeastern Kentucky cooperative.

“The safety of cooperative crews and co-op members is our top priority. This incident underscores the dangerous nature of storm restoration work,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association which supports local co-ops. “We know that patience is wearing thin among those still without power, and co-ops are working to restore power as quickly as they safely can. But, co-op crews are not robots, and this accident is a humbling reminder that these linemen risk life and limb to help their fellow co-op members.”

Approximately 1,000 personnel have been working to restore power after back-to-back-to-back winter storms felled trees and branches, snapping hundreds of utility poles in some of the most challenging terrain in the commonwealth. Warming temperatures have replaced the ice and snow with mud and muck as co-op crews work 16-hour shifts to restore power. In addition to local co-op crews and contractors, mutual aid crews from Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana are also on the job.

At the height of the outages, more than 100,000 consumer-members were without power on February 16. As of 6pm Tuesday, February 23, total co-op outages are below 7,000 consumer-members.

“Each of the remaining outages will likely take longer to restore than the previous outages because of the challenging territory and the devastation caused by the ice,” Perry said. “These dedicated crews know how urgent the need is to restore power, and they are working as quickly as they 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.