Most roads reopened, power being restored after tree-snapping storm

tharrison@herald-leader.comJune 13, 2013 

A fierce storm whipped through Lexington on Thursday morning, snapping trees and pulling down power lines.

There was no warning from the National Weather Service for the damaging storm, which lashed the area with wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph, said Chris Bailey, WKYT chief meteorologist.

Police were busy for hours working intersections where traffic lights were out. By 3:30 p.m., most roads were reopened and traffic lights were functioning, police said.

Only an inbound section of Newtown Pike remained closed. The shutdown, caused by a downed tree, was expected to continue until midnight, police said. The tree knocked out traffic signals along Newtown Pike between Citation Boulevard and Interstate 75. Power to traffic lights was restored by late afternoon.

Immediately after the storm, about 9,300 Kentucky Utilities customers statewide, including 5,000 in Fayette County, were without electricity, KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said. By about 9 p.m. Thursday, power had been restored to all but 1,362 statewide, including 1,104 in Fayette County. Most of the Lexington outages were caused by tree limbs blown against power lines.

Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said there were enough officers to cover the problems from the storm, but all were busy. Several collisions occurred.

On Dunaway Street, one house was damaged when a large section of a tree fell through the ceiling. No one was injured.

Anita Johnson and her family have lived in the house for 19 years. They are a year away from paying it off, she said.

Johnson was at work when the tree fell, and she came home after hearing about it.

"We're just going to have to figure out what to do next," Johnson said. "It's hard to believe."

Any other day, Johnson's husband would have been in asleep in the bedroom where a limb came through the roof, Johnson said. On Thursday, he was out running errands.

"I just thank God everyone was OK," Johnson said.

Johnson's son, James White, was in the next room with his dog.

"I just heard a really big boom and then something hit the house," White said. "It hit so hard the house shook."

White couldn't see the extent of the damage until after the rain stopped.

"The whole thing kind of rattled me a little," White said. "It just started as rain. I didn't think anything of it."

Taylor Harrison: (859) 231-1324. Twitter: @heraldleader Morgan Eads: (859) 231-3335. Twitter: @heraldleader

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