High winds cause widespread damage
Local State of Emergency Declared
By Allyson Dix
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Widespread damage and lingering power outages across the Commonwealth have led to local emergency orders after an outbreak of record-setting high winds on Friday.
Heavy rain and sustained high wind speeds throughout the afternoon into the night brought, at times, hurricane-force winds. The weather event hit the area in the middle of Kentucky’s Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Metcalfe County Judge/Executive Larry Wilson declared a local state of emergency for the county Friday night and many agencies, officials, electric crews, and volunteers worked to help mitigate the situation and restore affected areas back to normal as quickly as possible.
Eight counties and two cities have filed emergency declarations and 29 and nine others have announced plans to do so, respectively.
Sixty-seven calls have been made to 911 locally related to Friday’s weather.
Thousands in the county experienced power outages and Metcalfe County Emergency Management (EM) Director Emory Kidd reported as of Saturday morning nearly 100 trees were removed from roadways, many structures were damaged, and over 3,200 residents are still without electricity.
The storm caused a total of 536,569 customers to be without power across Kentucky and as of late Saturday morning, over 395,000 were still without.
No injuries were reported in Metcalfe County and while the local school district was closed for unrelated reasons, many other school districts closed in advance out of caution due to the incoming weather.
As of Saturday around noon, two families have been displaced due to the weather outbreak and are utilizing available help from the county.
Casey Archer with Warren County Emergency Management who is also a meteorologist explained to the Edmonton Herald News, “According to the Kentucky Mesonet site across the region, 50 to 60 mph winds have been very common across the area with some localized reports of higher.”
A low-pressure system swept through with a warm front in the first round of storms and then a cold front that brought in the second round, which caused the high sustained wind speeds.
When asked about the reports of hurricane-force winds, Archer said, “50 to 60 mph with some higher are more like tropical storm winds. I know of a couple reports which gets into that hurricane force winds. So absolutely, I would say that we have had some stronger than average winds across the area.”
The low-pressure system that came through the area broke a couple of records as far as how strong it was, Archer added.
“The low across here was about 977 millibars, which normal was about 1,000,” he said, “When that moved through, all of the wind really picked up.”
Housed next to the Metcalfe County Government Center, the roof collapsed on The Auction Barn and debris scattered and Kidd said several houses and barns were damaged.
Kidd advises anyone with property damage to contact their insurance companies first. For more specific details on Friday’s weather event, visit Metcalfe County Emergency Management Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MetcalfeKYemgmgt.
Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency ahead of the cold front that brought the storms to the state. On Saturday, Beshear confirmed a total of four direct deaths: a 23-year-old male in Edmonson County; a 63-year-old male in Logan County; a 68-year-old male in Simpson County; and a 41-year-old female in Fayette County. Another indirect fatality occurred in Bath County, an 84-year-old male.
Also activated in the state-level emergency declaration are the price gouging laws to protect families from grossly overpriced goods and services, and under state law, price gougers can be held accountable. Price gouging can be reported through Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s Office.
When it comes to a local emergency declaration, the county’s emergency operations plan becomes the operating standard for the county and can essentially waive some of the procurement procedures giving the Emergency Management Director the ability to deal with and make decisions with regard to emergencies.
Despite the legalities and paperwork, officials all came together as a team to begin restoring some normalcy.
Kidd shared information for the public on how to deal with power outages.
POWER OUTAGE TIPS:
Extended power outages may impact the whole community and the economy. A power outage is when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly.
A power outage may:
– Disrupt communications, water, and transportation.
-Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.
– Cause food spoilage and water contamination.
– Prevent the use of medical devices.
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
- Use a generator, but ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
- Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
- Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
- Check with local officials about heating and cooling locations open near you.
How to Protect Yourself During A Power Outage
Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
Preparing for a Power Outage
Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs when the power goes out, such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
Know Your Medical Needs
Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
Using Appliances During Power Outages
Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stove top or oven to heat your home. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary surges or spikes that can cause damage.
Have enough nonperishable food and water. Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
Generators can be helpful when the power goes out. It is important to know how to use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and other hazards.
– Generators and fuel should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages.
– Install working carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill you, your family, and your pets.
– Keep the generator dry and protected from rain or flooding. Touching a wet generator or devices connected to one can cause electrical shock.
– Always connect the generator to appliances with heavy-duty extension cords.
– Let the generator cool before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.
– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Returning After A Power Outage
– When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
– If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. Consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately for a new supply.