KU crews working to finish fixing power outages in Lexington

jwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 1, 2013 

Power outages, downed trees and at least one fatality were reported as a result of heavy rains and high winds that rolled through Kentucky Thursday evening and early Friday.

The fatality was in Barren County, where sheriff's deputies found a woman under a fallen tree Thursday afternoon. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name had not been released by 9:30 a.m. Friday.

An 18-year-old man was injured in LaRue County Thursday night when his vehicle crashed into a large tree blown down on Ky. 52. The sheriff's department said a piece of wood punctured the man's eye socket. He was taken to a Louisville hospital by ambulance because helicopters could not fly in the stormy weather, officials said.

In Lexington on Friday morning, police urged drivers to avoid the Newtown Pike area, where several traffic lights were out. Downed trees were being removed from a number of streets and roads, and crews were working to restore electricity in some locations.

No injuries were reported, police Lt. Mark Brand said.

Monica French, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said the state suffered "moderate" damage from the storms.

"We'll be finding out more. But as of right now, we had moderate wind damage," French sad. "A lot of trees down and some power outages. In addition to that, there were a couple of structures that were damaged or blown off their paddings.

"From what we've learned so far, there hasn't been anything heavy. But that could change."

Just before 9 a.m., Brand said, a power line was reported down at Walnut Hill and Old Richmond roads, and a tree was in the road at Menifee Avenue and Preston Avenue. There also was a report of a traffic hazard — probably a downed tree — on Paynes Mill Road, he said.

"We haven't had any major accidents," Brand said. "We seem to have come through the weather pretty well."

Boyle County Public Schools opened about two hours late Friday because of a power outage at the high school, district officials said.

Meanwhile, about 4,200 Kentucky Utilities customers in Lexington remained without power Friday morning, as crews worked to restore service after heavy winds and rain overnight.

KU spokeswoman Chris Whelan said more than 8,000 people in Lexington lost power during the storm. Overall, the storms affected more than 36,270 KU customers in Fayette and 77 other Kentucky counties, Whelan said. That includes most of Central Kentucky, she said.

"We started seeing outages across the state as early as 5 in the afternoon Thursday," she said. "We would get them back on, and then something else would come through. It was just wave after wave in that storm. It was so long-lasting."

At one peak time, almost 17,500 customers were without electricity, she said.

Between Louisville Gas and Electric and KU, almost 52,000 customers were affected by the winds and rain that started Thursday afternoon and continued into the morning, Whelan said.

By about 8 a.m., crews had restored power to all but about 11,000 customers, she said.

Whelan said damage across the area ranged from downed electrical lines to power poles that were snapped.

Whelan cautioned that people should stay away from any downed lines while repairs continued.

"Even if you think it's cable TV, don't assume it's not dangerous," she said.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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