Ike Fallout: Harsh Winds Buffet much of Kentucky

September 16, 2008

Harsh winds caused by remnants of Hurricane Ike knocked down trees and snapped power lines, wreaking damage across Kentucky on Sunday.

Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of Emergency for Kentucky late on Sept. 14.

“With this state of emergency order, we can take whatever steps necessary to support first responders in communities across the state, provide resources at the state level to ensure safety and, if necessary, request federal assistance,” Beshear said in a statement.

The winds left hundreds of thousands without electric power in Louisville.

As of 3 p.m. on Sept. 14, more than 230,000 customers were without power in a 16-county area served by LG&E, said spokesman Chip Keeling.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said some residents could be without electric power for days as lines are repaired and debris is removed from the roadways.

The damage was widespread across Kentucky, as several counties in western Kentucky declared a state of emergency early Sunday afternoon.

Beshear said the state’s emergency operation center and transportation operation center have been activated. Beshear said the two centers have the capacity to coordinate the state’s emergency agencies.

The heavy winds also caused two Kentucky bridges over the Ohio River to close.

The William H. Natcher Bridge near Owensboro closed briefly after a crane barge broke loose of its moorings upriver near Rockport, Ind. and struck the bridge. The bridge was reopened by the early afternoon after state inspectors cleared it for travel.

The Milton-Madison Bridge that spans the Ohio River at Madison, Ind., has also been closed as a precaution. The steel bridge was built in the 1920s.

Officials closed public schools in Louisville as about 100 schools were left without power. The roof of the gymnasium at Western High School in Louisville was partially blown off by the winds, Abramson’s office said.

Louisville Airport was also briefly closed while workers cleared debris from the runways. It reopened at 4:30 p.m.

LG&E said all of its crews have been called in to help repair power lines and poles that were snapped by the winds.

Downed trees and power lines closed parts of several state roadways Sunday afternoon.

Kentucky’s Division of Emergency Management said numerous small fires were reported as a result of downed power lines. County and state crews were working on clearing up the damage.

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