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Electricity still out for thousands in Kentucky

While some parts of the state were hammered by powerful winds Sunday, Central Kentuckians who surveyed structural damage Monday found the area had been pretty much spared from Hurricane Ike's spirit. However, power outages touched thousands, regardless of region.

"The biggest concern for the general statewide population is lack of power," said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management. "This was such a prolonged, sustained high wind event there were a lot of power lines down and utilities were interrupted."

Rodney Simpson, electric superintendent for the Frankfort Plant Board, said about 1,000 customers were out of power on Sunday. But power was restored early Monday morning, and the plant board sent a crew to Owensboro to help with storm damage.

"The storm was good to us," Simpson said. "We were able to move relatively quick on getting the electric back on compared to some of the other areas."

By early Monday, power had also been restored to nearly all 5,000 Kentucky Utilities customers in Lexington who were without power at the height of the storm, KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said. But, as of Monday afternoon, about 29,000 KU customers were without electricity across the state, mostly in Western Kentucky. Feltham said it could be a day or two before power is restored for those customers.

About 225,000 Louisville Gas & Electric customers were without power Monday afternoon. Those customers could be without power for as long as two weeks.

Several counties have declared states of emergency, and others are planning to, because of the power outages, Rogers said.

"Our utilities are one of the resources that we do take for granted until it's disrupted," Rogers said.

Governor Steve Beshear has also declared a state of emergency to prevent price gouging on certain items for at least 30 days.

Most of the structural damage was reported in Western Kentucky and along the Ohio River corridor, where several homes were reported damaged.

Rogers was not able to release figures assessing the damage Monday afternoon, but he said hundreds of homes may have been moderately to severely damaged. He suspected the number of reports were growing as county officials worked during the day Monday.

In Fayette, and surrounding counties, the story was mostly downed trees and power lines with some minor structural problems throughout the counties.

In Scott County, the storm caused trees to block 16 roads in the county, but all the roads were cleared by Sunday evening.

In Madison County, there were reports of at least four downed power lines and trees across the road, said Michael Bryant, Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program director for Madison County.

Some of the downed lines caused grass fires that firefighters quickly extinguished, Bryant said.

Workers had cleared debris from the road by late Sunday night.

In Lexington, winds split the trunk of a tree Richmond Road and half the trunk fell on a passing automobile, and the driver was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Part of a tobacco warehouse collapsed at Cedar and Plunkett streets, crushing a truck.

"We're fortunate that the ground wasn't saturated because that was my worst case fear," said Tim Brandewie with Lexington's Division of Environmental and Emergency Management, noting that entire trees could have been uprooted in that case. "That's what caused so much of the damage back in April."

It appears there was one death in the state as result of the storm. A 10-year-old boy in Shelby County died after he was struck by a tree limb.

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