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EARLIER: Shelby under winter weather advisory

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Power restored to most residents; dangling wires remain a hazard

By Lisa King

Just as officials have begun to make progress on power outages in the county, it's looking like more snow could be on the horizon for this week.

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The National Weather Service is predicting highs in the 30s and 40s for this weekend but warns of  snow blowing back in again Sunday night and lingering throughout the week, with temperatures plunging once more.

How will more snow affect the power situation?

Officials are trying to clear the roads and power lines as much as possible before new snow and ice cover them again.

That was the plan Friday morning, when county officials in all branches of emergency services met at the Emergency Management Agency office on 7th Street to discuss their options.

Debbie Martin, president and CEO of Shelby Energy, said the discouraging thing is that just as soon as lines are cleared and power is back on in some places, it's lost in another.

Bob Price, team leader for Kentucky Utilities, agreed.

“The weather is just not cooperating,” he said, as he addressed the group of fire chiefs, emergency management officials, Red Cross personnel, school board staff, road crew, and county officials, some of whom were showing the strain of working around the clock this past week.

“Nothing is melting, and it's snowing again.”

Some residents were surprised to awaken Friday morning and find as much as two inches of additional snow on their driveways and porches Friday morning.

  Power being restored slowly

Despite the bleak situation, both Price and Martin had some encouraging news to share with the group.

Price delivered the bad news first.

“We have no transmission lines going to La Grange at all,” he said. “Before we can get a substation back up, we have to physically check each line that's down, and that really slows us up. But it has to be done for safety reasons.”

But the good news is that KU is making progress.

“We have contract crews in from Michigan, Chicago and Philadelphia to help our local people, and they are working in Taylorsville, Shelbyville, Simpsonville, La Grange and Eminence,” he said. “They are working round the clock to get the substations back up, and if we can do that, we can get a big block of customers back up.”

Price added that crews are concentrating on getting power back to essential areas first, such as hospitals, police agencies, and fire stations, including the Cropper and East 60 stations, which were still without power Friday morning. The downtown stoplights are also a priority, and the light at the intersection at Highways 53 and U.S. 60 is working again.

“At first, everybody worked until they were dragging and couldn't stand up, but now we have cut back to working 16-hour days,” he said. “We're really hoping to have everybody back up by Monday. That's our goal.”

Martin also had some good news from Shelby Energy.

“Almost all of Persimmon Ridge is back up, except for Park View,” she said. “That leaves only about 800 people still without power in Shelbyville.”

Having Persimmon Ridge back up was good news for Simpsonville City Manager David Eaton, who reported that about 200 people were still without power in Simpsonville.

  Danger still exists

Some officials, such as Road Department Supervisor Carl Henry and Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger, said they were concerned about dangling live wires.

Henry said there was a live wire hanging down close to the roadway on Veechdale Road on Thursday evening and that cars were driving under it.

“If people see a line hanging down like that, they should assume it's hot and try to avoid it,” he said. “We don't want anybody to get fried.”

Another hazard is limbs and scattered debris in the roadway,

“There is not one road in this county that doesn't have some obstacles; there are limbs everywhere, and lines hanging down,” Henry said, which is one reason why Shelby County School official Gary Kidwell said he is considering canceling school on Monday.

“Power is back on at all schools except Cropper, but the thing to worry about is whether buses can get through safely,” he said. “I will personally drive around the county Sunday afternoon to make that determination for Monday.”

Henry and others agreed that was a good idea.

“Cars can get under them [low-hanging power lines], but buses can't,” Henry said.

  Salt supply exhausted To top it off, the county is out of salt.

“We have some ordered,” Rothenburger said. “But Morton [Salt] said they don't know when they can get it to us, so we have no idea when we will get it.”

But Henry said that road crews will still be out plowing continuously for as long as necessary to keep the roads clear.

“We're not the only ones in this situation,” Henry said. “Franklin County is also out, and so is just about every other county. But we will have our crews out doing their best to keep snow plowed off the roadways.”

  FEMA aid  

Emergency management Agency Director Charlie Frazee said that some people have a misconception about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) aid.

“The president has designated Kentucky eligible for FEMA assistance, but that doesn't necessarily mean people will get any individual money,” Frazee said. “What that means is that now the state will get direct federal aid for such things as emergency supplies, like generators and equipment to clear roadways and downed trees.”

Whether or not residents will get reimbursed for damages from the ice storm remains to be seen after preliminary damage estimates are made, he said. If anyone has any questions about this topic, they can contact the local Emergency Management Agency at 647-9001.

Red Cross officials also announced that the emergency shelter at Clear Creek School is still operational. However, that could change if school is open Monday. Anyone with questions about the shelter can contact Angela Dish at the Red Cross at 888-981-0383 or Shelby County Dispatch at 633-2323. 

  County judge commends workers  

Rothenburger said that he wanted to thank all county and city employees for working so hard to restore power, clear the roads, and do what they could to keep the community from becoming paralyzed by ice.

“I would also like to thank the residents, who have been patient and understanding for the most part,” he said. “Not that everybody in here hasn't a good cussing out,” he said, with a grin. “Most people have had at least one good cussing, and I've probably had about two dozen.”

Price chuckled as he recalled a similar situation.

“Our guys had just sat down to take a break and have a meal, and somebody called in to complain that the men were all sitting down eating and were not working,” he said. “And the very next stop on their list when they finished eating was that guy's house.”