KU works to restore power in Cardinal Valley
Power could be out until late Tuesday for some customers in Lexington and Versailles without electricity since Friday’s storms, according to Kentucky Utilities.
At times in downpours, utility workers raced to repair downed power lines across Central Kentucky on Sunday before new rounds of storms hit.
But Kentucky Utilities’ online outage map showed that some customers were not expected to have power restored until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday as crews worked to get trees or limbs off power lines after powerful storms swept through Kentucky on Friday. In some cases, electrical poles were knocked down and had to be fixed or replaced.
“We’re looking at getting service restored to the Lexington area before the end of Tuesday,” said Daniel Lowry, KU spokesman. “But we’re very hopeful there will be a lot of customers before then. We’re going to put updated numbers on the map, more specific to the areas, but our target is before the end of Tuesday. There may be still be some customers a little after that. “
Lowry said about 950 people including technicians, tree trimmers, safety people and support staff were working on repairs Sunday.
Workers got the lights back on for several thousand Sunday night into Monday. As of 8 a.m. Monday, 1,930 Fayette customers were without power and 7,024 in Woodford County did not have electricity, according to KU. That's down from 8,300 in Fayette and 8,100 in Woodford Sunday night.
This is the biggest weather event in terms of outages in Lexington and Central Kentucky since the destructive 2003 ice storm, Lowry said. Earlier on its Facebook page, KU and LG&E said that at the peak, 170,000 customers were impacted, making Friday’s storms among the top five storms to hit the LG&E and KU system.
“The trees and wind took down more than 1,000 wires in our system in Kentucky,” he said. Crews will continue repairs in the rain but it likely will slow things down.
“I know it’s been incredibly frustrating for a lot of our customers to have power out. And we appreciate their patience as our crews are working as quickly and as safely as they can to make the repairs and restore service,” Lowry said.
Crews from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin were expected to arrive on Sunday to assist with repairs.
Mayor Jim Gray tweeted Sunday that “progress continues .. KU has 800 working here, including 160 technicians who came in overnight.”
Customers took to social media to complain that KU originally had issued misleading estimates about how long the repairs would take, sometimes posting on the outage map that power would be back within hours only to change the times.
“I totally have compassion for the KU employees out there exhausted and working their butts off to try and restore power,” wrote Mica Peel. “The thing that bothers me is the lack of communication. Obviously we will go days without power and that’s no ones fault ... BUT just make an announcement that it could be days so people can make arrangements.”
Customers’ accounts differed somewhat from KU’s. Lowry said that early on, KU turned off the estimated time of repair on their outage map because “it was just too hard to predict. We try to be as accurate as possible because we want you to be able to make a decision.”
The National Weather Service in Louisville determined that Friday’s storms included three confirmed tornadoes as well as softball-sized hail in Tompkinsville.
Lexington Blue Grass Airport reported the strongest measured wind gust at 70 mph. An EF-1 tornado was confirmed in Hart County in Western Kentucky and in Harrison County, Ind. near Louisville. An EF-0 tornado was confirmed in Metcalfe County. Survey teams plan to look at damage in northeast Harrison and northwest Floyd counties on Monday to assess the storm’s impact there, the weather service said.
In Lexington, some of the main areas without power were on the southeast side of town around Alumni Drive, where about 2,500 customers had been without power since about 4:15 p.m. Friday.
That’s also the only section of New Circle Road still without working lights, according to Lexington police Lt. Chris Van Brackel.
“KU’s continuing to do amazing work,” he said. “We are now at 12 intersections that we are using police cars or generators to power the lights. And we’re now down to two locations with officers standing by with trees down.”
All the damage was from Friday, although some is newly reported, he said. On Sunday, KU found a tree down on power lines on Dorset Drive off Versailles Road, he said, and asked police to guard the area for now.
Van Brackel said there are still minor intersections around the city that do not have working lights.
“So we’re reminding people to treat those as four-way stop,” he said. “We know that there’s other intersections; we just don’t have the manpower to get there. We’re trying to prioritize these intersections.”
In Versailles and Midway, where thousands have been without power since Friday afternoon, customers were given an estimated time — 11:30 p.m. Tuesday — for restoration on the KU outage map.