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Severe Storm – Power Outages, School Closings in Hancock County


A massive storm system traveled across Western Kentucky on Friday, March 3rd causing a reported 351,000 customers to lose power. Hancock County Schools were closed on Friday and again on Monday, March 6th. Hancock County Emergency Management Agency, all of the county fire departments, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Road Department workers have all been working long hours through the weekend to clear roadways and help Kenergy restore power to those still without in the county.

Judge/Executive Johnny Roberts said that he feels we are very fortunate to live in a county where people will jump-in and help each other. “It doesn’t happen like that in all communities. We’re blessed to live in Hancock County. We had so many different departments helping each other and we’re very fortunate.

As far as the county, we had minor damage. I know some private property owners had some damage. Vastwood Park had some minor roof damage – at the little league field and a shelter also had some roof damage. We’re talking to the insurance about some of those issues right now.

We had the road department out removing trees and trying to get the roads clear. We worked closely with the schools during this time too. Kenergy had their folks out. It was a group effort trying to get everybody hooked back up and ready to go. In situations like this, everybody is doing their best.

 I know we had school out. I think it was a good call for the school. I thought they did a really good job with that. Hopefully in the next day or two we’re in good shape. It’s been quite an experience. It’s been a collective effort. We have a great community and everybody always comes together. We’re so blessed in that regard.”

Brent Wigginton, local representative on the Kenergy Board, said there was much more damage East of the county. As of Tuesday, there were only 20 homes still without power in Hancock County. Over the weekend, there were still over 100.

Wigginton said this probably ranked second to the county’s worst power outage during the ice storm of ’08. “We pulled in every contract crew we had,” he said, “even the ones working on broadband right now. A lot of times we can pull in other co-ops, but they were in the same shape we were. It was all the way across the state (the storm), so we were very limited as to how many co-ops we could draw on for help this time. This was a true community effort and Kenergy really appreciates all the effort they put in. I’m so thankful to all of them.

Kenergy appreciates their (customers) patience. I appreciate their patience. I appreciate our linemen crews that have worked countless hours in the last 3 to 4 days to restore the power and to get it restored safely and our emergency services crews, county road department and everyone who has pitched-in in the community to help anywhere from clearing trees to blocking roads to keep people safe when we have live lines down. I appreciate all of their efforts because when you get into a situation like wind storms and ice storms, it takes everybody coming together to get everything back to normal.”

Leslie Barr, Communications & Public Relations Specialist for Kenergy, extended a sincere thank you to all of the Kenergy members for their patience as well. “Whether they are back on now or they still have to wait sometime, we really appreciate the patience,” she said. “We had our crews and 80 additional contractors helping us out with repairs and they worked around the clock from Friday morning when the storm hit to – they’re still working now. We know how frustrating it is to not have power. It really affects everyone’s lives, especially those who use medical devices or have any vulnerable members in their households. We just really appreciate their patience with us.”

Deputy B.J. Burton said that Middle Knottsville was probably one of the hardest hit areas. “We had a lot of power lines go down in Middle Knottsville so that’s where the majority of power outages came from in our county,” he said. “Mainly the South end – 69 South and 144, we had multiple trees down on Friday evening. One time I think we had about 47 calls for trees downing power lines and that’s just what we knew of. We had every unit available, from EMA to all the fire departments and the county road department. We were all out cutting trees, trying to clear roadways and help Kenergy.”

One of the worst situations they had over the weekend, he said, was on 271 South at Ridgetop. A gigantic tree fell off the banks there and hit a power line. They had to close the road for around 12 or 13 hours in order to get everything cleared for traffic.

“That’s pretty much what we had on storm damage,” Burton said, “not a lot of houses damaged or anything of that nature. We’re thankful for that. We had some roofs on some homes damaged but nothing severe yet.”

Hawesville City Mayor Rob McCormick said, “We do feel like it’s a terrible tragedy for the county and all of the people who’ve been without electricity. We experienced it at City Hall. We’re back up and running now. We do feel bad for the people.”

Officer Cody Axton, who is currently training to be the new Hawesville Chief of Police, aided with traffic control around all of the sites throughout the county. “He worked diligently with B.J. Burton,” McCormick said, “and got a lot of good experience. He was able to aid in assistance and I believe the Sheriff’s Department was tickled to death to have him. That just shows good faith in going out in the community instead of just concentrating on Hawesville. Although that was his first priority, after that was done, he took care of going out and helping. I’m very proud of how all of the emergency services worked together to get this done in our county and city.”

By Jennifer Wimmer

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