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Power restored in Shelby

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All residents back on at 3 p.m. Saturday

By Lisa King

Shelby Energy officials report that as of 3 p.m. Saturday, power was restored to all residents in Shelby County.

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The outages began Tuesday night, and continued throughout Saturday. 

While some people were preparing to spend their third night without electricity on Thursday night, others were grateful for its return.

“It went out Tuesday night and came back on this morning at ten-thirty,” said Dennis Carraco, who lives in the Todds Point area in Simpsonville, where 70 customers of Shelby Energy Cooperative remained without power Thursday afternoon.

While a 61-member team of Shelby Energy workers, composed of crews from energy co-ops across the state, toiled in snow-covered fields and even frozen ponds to retrieve and repair broken power lines, residents without electricity struggled to cope with the issues arising from no heat, no light and no hot water.

“My wife was complaining that the milk felt warm, and I said, ‘We should just put it outside,’” Carraco said. “Heck, I grew up poor, and I can remember not even having a refrigerator.”

The worst part of the ordeal for him, he said, after lugging the heavy generator he had purchased last year out of the basement, was alternating the power to the appliances he needed most.

“We had to turn the refrigerator off to have hot water, and then hooked it up to other things,” he said. “We suffered through it.”

Still others, who posted comments on Shelby Energy’s Facebook page, talked about their homes becoming dark and cold and uncomfortable.

When the ice storm hit early Tuesday evening, following a storm that dumped more than 7 inches of snow on Shelby County and closed schools, businesses and government agencies, the trouble soon began, with 700 Shelby Energy customers without power overnight and into Wednesday and 12 Kentucky Utilities customers out in Shelbyville.

Candi Waford, spokesperson for Shelby Energy, said that the energy co-op had 2,600 customers out altogether. At noon Wednesday, crews had restored power to 300 households, leaving 400 still out, but that number climbed back to 700 within hours.

She defended the slow progress of power crews, explaining they were working in extremely trying conditions to over tremendous obstacles from cold temperatures, deep snowdrifts and mounds of ice.

“Crews are walking lines with trees down all over the place, all over the lines,” she said. “I know people are frustrated. But this is not something that you can just fix with the flip of a switch. For instance, this morning, our crews had to pull a line out of a frozen pond before they could even start to work on it.

“Ice is heavy, and it’s breaking trees. It’s [power outages] scattered all over the county. It looks like the numbers are very slow moving, and they are. In Simpsonville, we probably have about 70 out in Todds Point.”

That outage prompted Shelby Energy to get a temporary shelter open for those hundreds still without power.

But that shelter, located at Simpsonville Fire Station No. 2 on Anderson Lane, near Aiken Road, did not attract even one guest, Simpsonville Fire Chief Ronnie Sowder said. He said he thought that was because it opened so late Wednesday night, and there was no way to get the word out about its being open.

“So what we’ve done is we’ve just put a note on the door that if anyone came by and wanted shelter, they should just call central dispatch, and we’ll send somebody out to open it up for them,” he said. “The problem is that nobody’s got any access to social media. Shy of going door to door, that was the only option.”

However, no one at all had shown up, as of Friday.

Waford said the outages were scattered throughout Shelby County, and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Whitman said the area of the county near Bagdad and Cropper also was hard hit.

“There was a big area out on Vigo Road, but I think they got it back up last night,” he said.

Whitman echoed the problems that power crews are facing to restore power and why it is taking so long.

“The problem is a lot of ice is breaking trees and tree limbs,” he said. “There are trees all over the lines and it’s very slick. It’s a slow process.”

Whitman said he was most concerned about the Todds Point and Vigo areas because they had been out the longest.

Corinne Belton, who lives near Cropper, said her power had been out for 33 hours when it came back on at 1 p.m. Thursday.

“I said, ‘Thank Goodness,’” she said.

Belton said she and her family had borrowed an indoor propane heater, so they were able to keep warm. A generator kept the food in the refrigerator from spoiling. They didn’t have all the comforts they usually enjoyed, she said, but they were better off than some of their neighbors who are dairy farmers.

“Some people had to use generators to milk and some couldn’t milk at all,” she said.

That can cause problems for dairy cows, in the form of infections in their udders and even causing them to stop giving milk, said Belton, who is the agriculture extension agent for Shelby County.

“We are just very grateful to be back on, and since we are, we hope that everybody else will be too, soon,” she said.

Emergency shelter

An emergency shelter has been opened at Simpsonville Fire Station No. 2, on Anderson Lane about a mile south of Todds Point. To access, call Shelby County Dispatch at 633-2323.