Lexington prepares for new winter storm

jcheves@herald-leader.comMarch 2, 2014 

Lexington police Chief Ronnie Bastin (at microphone), Mayor Jim Gray and other city leaders talked to the news media at noon Sunday about winter storm preparations.

JOHN CHEVES

Lexington braced Sunday afternoon for a winter storm that threatened to be the season's worst, starting with heavy rain, switching to a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice and ending with five or more inches of snow expected through Monday morning.

"Here we are again," Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said at a city hall news conference at noon. "About the time we think things couldn't get worse, well, they do."

Citizens should stay off the roads if possible during the storm and keep an eye on their neighbors and pets, Gray said.

Garbage and recycling collection scheduled for Monday in Lexington was postponed until Wednesday. City employees whose jobs are not related to the weather are on a two-hour delay Monday, and Gray urged all motorists to drive cautiously.

Fayette County schools had not made a decision by early Sunday afternoon about holding classes on Monday.

Power outages are possible across Kentucky as heavy ice and snow bring down tree limbs and power lines. Kentucky Utilities is getting help from out-of-state power companies, with the additional repair workers waiting in Louisville until the storm passes and it's known where they need to deploy, said KU spokesman Cliff Feltham.

KU will update its power outage map at lge-ku.com/storm so residents can see if problems in their area have been reported, Feltham said. Compared to the disastrous ice storm of 2003, which left some Lexington neighborhoods without electricity for more than a week, KU now can communicate quickly with the public and its repair workers through texts, email and social media, he said.

"It's a much more efficient system this time around, at least in terms of communications. That means we should have a faster restoration of service than we saw in 2003," Feltham said.

Homeowners and business owners should remember that they are responsible for repairing any damage to the masthead and meter socket attached to buildings before KU can restore power, Feltham said. KU is responsible for repairing any damage to electric lines, poles and transformers.

In Lexington, city road crews started work at noon Sunday with 3,800 tons of salt available and 1,329 tons more to be delivered. The night shift will begin at 7 p.m. as the worst weather is anticipated, making driving treacherous. Heavy rains early Sunday made it impossible to pre-treat roads, but city trucks started to drop salt in the afternoon as soon as the rain ended, said Albert Miller, acting director of streets and roads.

"I'm looking forward to April," Miller said.

Four 24-hour shelters for the homeless are available, Gray said. They are the Catholic Action Center at 400 E. Fifth St.; the Hope Center Emergency Shelter for Men at 360 W. Loudon Ave.; the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter for Women and Children at 722 W. Main St.; and Arbor Youth Services MASH Drop Inn Center (for youths up to age 17) at 536 W. Third St,.

Additional shelter in Lexington may be provided by the Red Cross if it's necessary because of widespread power outages, with the city's Emergency Operations Center monitoring the situation, city officials said.

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