Emergency state sought

The lights didn't come on last night at more than 261,000 homes and businesses in Kentucky, but juice was flowing again to key portions of Louisville where visitors have arrived for the Ryder Cup.

Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday he will ask federal authorities to declare a state of emergency so Kentucky communities can tap federal money for damages caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Ike's winds pounded counties along the Ohio River corridor, downing power lines, closing schools and clogging roadways with debris.

According to the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, 21 counties and 13 communities had declared states of emergency by Tuesday afternoon.

Beshear said Kentucky officials were meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to begin the process of declaring a federal disaster, which would allow communities to be reimbursed for damages.

"We are working aggressively, and in a comprehensive manner, to prepare the federal disaster request," Beshear said.

Buddy Rogers, a spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management, said that roughly half of Kentucky's 120 counties experienced damage from the high winds. The damage stretched from the far western edge of the state to Kenton County in Northern Kentucky, Rogers said.

More than 150 Kentucky National Guard soldiers were sent to Louisville to help Louisville Metro police direct traffic in areas with no power; they are also helping with debris removal, said Col. Phil Miller, a spokesman with the Kentucky National Guard.

The National Guard also has lent generators to eight counties and communities — in many cases those generators were to help keep water and sewer systems going, Miller said.

Meanwhile, power companies in Louisville and Northern Kentucky scrambled Tuesday to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

Cliff Feltham, a spokesman for LG&E in Louisville, said the number of customers without power in Louisville was down to 182,000 by Tuesday night, which means 119,000 customers' power had been restored since 70-mph winds spun off by Hurricane Ike tore down power lines in the city.

Still, LG&E warned that it could be 10 to 14 days before all customers have power again. The company has 1,100 employees working to restore power in and around Louisville.

The remaining outages are scattered across the Louisville area, said LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling.

A lack of electricity has caused much chaos and many closings in Louisville, but the the Ryder Cup began as scheduled Tuesday with practice rounds.

Jim Wood, president of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said power had been restored to almost all the businesses near Valhalla, home of the 2008 Ryder Cup.

"The Derby Museum does not have power yet," Wood said. "But all the hotels on Hurstbourne (Parkway) got power restored last night. All of downtown now has power."

The golf tournament is expected to bring 40,000 visitors a day during the week. It is expected to generate $115 million for area hotels and restaurants this week — about the same as the Kentucky Derby, Wood said.

Louisville hotels are at capacity, and many people are staying in southern Indiana, Shelbyville, Frankfort or Lexington, Wood said.

Meanwhile, many key services in the city — including education — remain short-circuited.

Jefferson County Public Schools announced Tuesday that classes have been canceled for Wednesday. Lauren Rogers, a spokeswoman for the school district, said Tuesday that 65 school facilities were without power. One elementary school had minor damage to its roof. Rogers said students will be able to return to the school once power is restored district-wide.

Besides a lack of power, she said, there are still problems with some bus routes, as crews are still working to clear roadways of downed trees.

Rogers said it was unclear when the school system would reopen.

"We'll take a look again tomorrow and make a determination about Thursday," she said.

Bellarmine University in Louisville will not reopen until Sunday, according to a press release from the school.

The University of Louisville has delayed the start of classes on Wednesday until 10 a.m. Still, the University of Louisville and Kansas State University football game scheduled for Wednesday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will go on, university officials said.

In other parts of the state, Kentucky Utilities had 15,000 customers without power Tuesday night, and 12,000 of those were west of Interstate 65, Feltham said.

Only a handful of customers in the Lexington area remained without power Tuesday, Feltham said.

Kenergy, which supplies electricity to much of Western Kentucky, reported 14,000 customers without power Tuesday afternoon, including 6,400 in Daviess County, which includes Owensboro.

In Northern Kentucky, Duke Energy still had 50,780 customers without power in six Kentucky counties Tuesday night, said spokeswoman Kathy Meinke. She said crews from North Carolina arrived Tuesday night to help with repairs. Crews that the company sent south to help with Hurricane Ike have been recalled, By Wednesday, the company should have 1,600 employees working in the Cincinnati area to restore power, Meinke said.

"We've had outages everywhere," she said. "It (the storm) was like a hurricane. We had a lot of trees that came down, knocking out our power lines."