In April 7 IssueBy John ThompsonTimes Journal Reporter
What began as a warm Monday, following days of beautiful weather with temperatures reaching upwards of 80 degrees, turned wet and dangerous by mid-afternoon as a cold front moved through Russell County.
The massive low pressure system moved west to east in a cold wall blowing down from Canada and reaching the southernmost U.S.
With the front came strong winds, tornado threats and sheeting rain.
South Kentucky RECC reports that at peak yesterday, approximately 12,000 of their customers were without power, with 1,323 being affected in Russell County. According to spokesperson Joy Bullock with RECC, an additional 908 customers were affected due to an outage of the East Kentucky Power transmission substation in Sewellton. "Most customers saw their power restored quickly," said SKRECC spokeswoman Joy Bullock. "But a number take longer because they have to be dealt with as individual power losses instead of a large group affected by the loss of a major line."
SKRECC V-P of Engineering and Operations Dennis Holt says co-op and contract crews worked non-stop to restore electricity.
"Many outages had a great deal of damage, and it is taking quite a bit of work to get electricity restored to some. We still have at least ten broken poles to repair. While we still have outages in all of our counties, many individual outages, the largest number without power is in Wayne County. It appears that restoration efforts should be completed (Tuesday.)"
Kentucky Utilities reported that 24,100 customers were affected by the storm across Kentucky, mostly in South Central and South East. Locally some 500 plus customers went without power at some point, according to KU spokesman Cliff Feltham.
Russell County Emergency Coordinator H.M. Bottom reports that there were no injuries during the storm.
One barn was blown down and roof damage reported to three other structures.
"The barn was in the Eli area, and Jasper and Hammond's sustained substantial damage to their roof. We also had damage to Cannonball's Recycling building and to the Hwy 80 Auto Auction," said Bottom. "Those are the reported damages, and then we had numerous trees down throughout the whole county. There were power outages in a portion of the county and those were restored by about 10 p.m. Monday night."
There were no confirmed reports of tornado's appearing in Russell County, though Bottom did say there were reports from the Mount Olive area of a tornado being spotted.
Bottom said all agencies responded commendably, with emergency crew members and road department immediately beginning cleanup responses.
"I think we're also really fortunate to have the warning sirens now," Bottom said.
Something like a dozen emergency shelters were opened and manned, prepared to accept people seeking shelter from the storm.
"It's important to know how to respond to dangerous weather conditions," said Bottom. "Everyone should know where there closest emergency shelter is or have somewhere safe they can go to."