Rural KY counties prepare for possible ice storm

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Utility companies across the state are preparing for the potential ice storm and the damage, power outages and dangers it can bring.

We checked in with some rural counties where the damage is often felt the most and for the longest time.

“We’re planning for the worst case scenario and certainly praying for the best case scenario,” Lori Ulrich, Marketing and Public Relations manager for Fleming-Mason Energy Co-op.

That’s something most utility companies are thinking ahead of a predicted severe ice storm overnight Wednesday. They only have to look back to the storm of 2009, which left many without power for days.

Ulrich said crews are standing by.

“We’ve been checking our inventory – making sure our equipment is all up and ready to go,” Ulrich said.

John May, manager of Administrative Services for Licking Valley Rural Electric Co-op, said preparedness is an ongoing process. Trimming trees so they don’t touch power lines isn’t something you can do at a moment’s notice. It’s those downed trees and ice-filled limbs that often cause the biggest power outages.

“We do that year-round, not just when an ice storm’s coming,” May said. “You can’t come out and trim 2,000 miles of electric lines, so it’s always something we’re working on.”

Bradley Cherry agrees.

The CEO of Grayson Rural Electric Co-op says it’s good to know  if things do go wrong though there’s always someone who has your back – a perk of being part of a state-wide organization.

“It’s reassuring knowing we have that cooperative and those forces that are able to come in just via call at a moment’s notice,” Cherry said.

The ice storm of 2009 caused wide-spread devastation. One powerful tool these companies say they now rely on – social media. That’s’ something that barely existed a decade ago.

Now, they’re preparing customers way ahead of time and pointing them to apps to report outages.

“With radio and even with telephone, it kind of limits the focus on groups, whereas our social media we can reach out to all 6 counties with a click of a button,” Cherry said.

Three main messages: be prepared for the worst, be patient in case of power outages, and look out for others.

“Check on your neighbors,” May said. “Check on the elderly – you know sometimes those are the most vulnerable. Just be a good neighbor to someone.”

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