Weather

Region hit hard as many lose water, power

DANVILLE — Bob Woodward's home at Moreland in Lincoln County took a double hit in Tuesday night's ice storm: It was struck by falling trees, and the basement flooded.

Despite his personal loss, Woodward was busy helping others Wednesday, clearing downed trees on Maple Avenue in Danville. He said he'd take the wood to people who could burn it in their fireplaces.

"I'm over here helping everybody else, but people have got to come first," he said. "I'll deal with mine later."

All around Central Kentucky Wednesday, people were struggling to recover, many without power or water, some driven from their homes by storm damage.

Counties south of Lexington bore the brunt of the major winter storm Tuesday and early Wednesday, with some cities suffering widespread outages of both power and water service.

Danville was one of the hardest-hit areas, with power and water knocked out virtually citywide.

A generator was in place at Danville's water treatment plant, but residents were asked to conserve water over the next 36 hours so the city can fill its seven towers.

"If everybody uses water, we won't get them filled, and the water pressure will be horrible," City Clerk Donna Peek said from the city's emergency operations center. Residents are also advised to boil water used for cooking and drinking until they are notified that an advisory has been lifted.

A second generator being trucked from Atlanta to power Danville's water treatment plant ran into a regulatory snafu. Peek said a truck carrying the generator was stopped for four hours at a weigh station near Knoxville because it lacked a heavy-load permit to bring the equipment through Tennessee.

The truck finally got back on the road just before noon Wednesday, after Kentucky State Police called Tennessee authorities.

Water was "trickling in" about 7 p.m., and officials were hoping that homes would at least have low water pressure by 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the city has two shelters open for people who have no electricity. By 7 p.m., there were about 150 people at the Bunny Davis Recreational Complex, and about 82 at Centenary United Methodist Church, Peek said.

If necessary, a third shelter might open at Woodlawn Elementary School.

Among the people who had to evacuate their homes were residents of Arnold Towers, which houses elderly people, Peek said.

The city was under a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon, and downed power lines made many roads dangerous.

By early evening, only about 15 percent of Danville and Boyle County had power, Peek said.

To conserve water, all shifts of all industries in the county will be closed on Thursday, but some restaurants were expected to be open. Wal-Mart and Kroger will be open for grocery purchases only, Peek said.

The Red Cross was asking for volunteer nurses and other medical professionals to help out, and about 20 members of the National Guard were working to help clear streets, Peek said.

National Guard called

Madison County and the cities of Richmond and Berea also declared states of emergency, and the county's emergency management agency was requesting National Guard units to help with cleanup. Residents were urged to stay off roads because of downed trees.

Shelters were opened on Richmond Road North in Berea and at Richmond's White Hall Elementary School. However, the school shelter had to close Wednesday afternoon when the power went off. People there were moved to the Begley Building at Eastern Kentucky University. A shelter was also opened at Shannon Johnson Elementary, 109 Oakwood Drive in Berea.

Most of Berea was without power Tuesday afternoon. The power grid outage affected nearly all of Berea's 10,000 residents. Many were still without power Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon, about 150 people — mostly from Berea — had moved into an American Red Cross shelter set up at Church on the Rock on Richmond Road near the Berea city limits.

Families, homeless people and elderly citizens were scattered across the gym. Some were lying on the army-green cots. Others sat in the dining area in front of a lunch buffet of pizza.

The shelter, in the recreational building behind the church, will provide cots and food until power is restored, said Dana Sarver, whose husband, Mark, is the pastor.

"We've never done anything like this," she said. "Man, did we ever learn a lot."

'A pretty good mess'

In Mercer County, some rural homes along Vanarsdall Road were without power.

"We've got power, but my momma next door is out, and my cousin down the road don't have electricity," said Linda Christerson.

Christerson and her husband, Bobby, farm and raise cattle. Their 25 cows and 25 calves had been out in the field on Tuesday. "We left the barn open for them last night to get in. They're all in the barn. It's safer and warmer for them," she said.

In Lincoln County, officials said thousands of people were without power and could be for several more days. Across the county, trees and limbs freighted with ice had snapped, knocking down utility lines and blocking roads.

Road crews, firefighters and others worked to clear roads.

"You cut 'em out and more falls behind you," said Winford Todd, the county's emergency management director.

One particular concern was a nursing home, the Golden Living Center in Stanford, where the electricity was out. The facility had a small generator for lights, but not enough power for heat.

Todd said a county official asked him about evacuating the facility, but Todd arranged for the National Guard to bring in a larger generator.

Some parts of Stanford had electricity, but Todd estimated about 15,000 county residents would be without power Wednesday night, when temperatures were expected to dip into the teens. It could be several days before power is restored throughout the county, Todd said.

"We're in a pretty good mess," he said.

A dozen or so people spent Tuesday night in a shelter at a church in Stanford, but many people bundled up and stayed home.

Ora Floyd, who lives south of Stanford, said her power went out about 4 a.m. Tuesday.

"I just kind of stayed in bed" until her husband got home about 4 p.m. and lit a kerosene heater, Floyd said.

Wednesday afternoon, she was standing a line with dozens of other people at the Fort Logan Trading Post, waiting her turn at the lone kerosene pump.

Most other places in the county that sold kerosene didn't have power to operate pumps. Elsewhere in south-central Kentucky, rain falling on already saturated ground caused flooding along creeks and in low-lying areas.

About a quarter of Nicholasville still had no power late Wednesday afternoon and parts of Jessamine County also remained dark. Power was restored to Nicholasville's water plant, however, preventing a water shortage there.

In Georgetown, firefighters scrambled to respond to multiple reports of lines down and limbs crashing into houses.

Many families moved to shelters when homes lost power.

The Red Cross paid for rooms at Georgetown's Super 8 Motel so people whose homes lacked heat could stay there Wednesday night. About 40 rooms were filled by Wednesday afternoon, a desk clerk said.

Demontae McGowan, 15, said his family was coping with the situation after arriving at the motel.

"I'm just cold," he said.

Staff writers Bill Estep, Ashlee Clark, Shawntaye Hopkins and Steve Lannen contributed to this report.

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