Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 11, 2014

Storm aftermath: Thousands remain without power

ASHLAND — Thousands remained without power Wednesday after a vicious thunderstorm snapped trees and snarled lines across the region.

Workers spent the day removing trees and restoring lines after many labored through the night.

Streets are clear and cars are moving freely again after a night when downed trees and power lines combined with nonfunctioning signals snarled traffic at key Ashland intersections.

Some homeowners are grappling with major damage after falling trees damaged their houses.

More than 8,000 homes were without power, most of them in Boyd County, according to the Kentucky Power Co. website.

Cannonsburg was the hardest-hit area, and the company was concerned that more storms might roll through and impede repair work.

The company has imported about 360 additional line workers and 90 assessors to work on the restoration.

The company estimates it will restore service to 90 percent of the affected customers by midnight Friday.

Ashland was getting back to normal Wednesday, with fallen trees and lines cleared from almost all streets and all signals working, according to public works director Marion Russell.

A large tree fell at the height of the storm and blocked 13th Street at Lexington Avenue for several hours, Russell said.

The traffic signal at 13th Street and Blackburn Avenue lost power and was out well into Wednesday afternoon, and the signal at U.S. 23 and River Hill Drive also was out. Those signals have been repaired, Russell said.

A few trees had not been cleared away Wednesday afternoon because workers were waiting for the power company to verify that lines were not energized, he said.

Between 50 and 75 trees fell in Greenup County, judge-executive Bobby Carpenter said. The hardest-hit part of the county was the East Tygart area, where 20 trees fell.

Firefighters turned out during the night to cut away debris and more workers joined in through Wednesday, he said.

There were pockets of electrical outage remaining in Raceland, Kenwood and a section of Flatwoods, he said.

State highway workers worked through the day to clear roadways, according to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Allen Blair. Crews started worked just after the storm hit and some worked late into the night, he said.

In Boyd County, Ky. 752 near Durbin remained blocked by trees and closed. Whites Creek Road was restricted to one lane near Lockwood Estates and in other areas between U.S. 23 and Ky. 1937.

In Greenup County, crews had opened all previously closed roads but in many places, especially near Ky. 1 at Greenup and along Ky. 1458 between Flatwoods and KY 5, debris remains piled close to travel lanes.

Debris cleanup will probably continue through the rest of the week, according to Blair.

What appeared to be a fire at the Marathon Petroleum Catlettsburg refinery resulted from a temporary power failure that resulted in flaring activity, according to a statement from the company. The refinery was shut down during the power failure. There were no injuries, according to the statement.

Trees also damaged homes in the area. A large tree punched a hole in the roof of a house in the 2700 block of Cumberland Avenue and another fell on a house in the 4300 block of Chadwick Street.

“It looked like a hurricane. The visibility was about 10 feet. A big bang is what I heard,” said Casey Gore, who was next door to the Chadwick Street house when the tree fell.

Gore said he ran downstairs and a family member already was calling 911. Firefighters arrived quickly to begin cutting away debris and check on the residents. No one answered the door Wednesday morning but Gore said no one was hurt.

The storm that swept through at about 8 p.m. Tuesday was preceded by a startling formation captured by many a cell-phone camera. The formation is called a shelf cloud, National Weather Service meteorologist Liz Sommerville said, and is uncommon in the region.

While it typically signals an oncoming storm, a shelf cloud is not always followed by one as severe as Tuesday’s, she said.

More thunderstorms may hit the area today but probably not so severe, she said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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