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Beshear: Road crews worked overnight to clear critical routes

Beshear
Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 14:26:10-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews worked overnight and into this morning to clear critical routes across the state following the third winter storm to strike the commonwealth in a week.

More than half of customers impacted by power outages in eastern Kentucky have had power restored.

KYTC Secretary Jim Gray extended an official that temporarily suspends certain restrictions on commercial vehicles engaged in relief efforts, including utility trucks and carriers delivering fuel and other supplies to the stricken area. The extension runs to Feb. 28.

Beshear said the State Emergency Operations Center is currently activated at Level 3, supporting the power outage response and the winter storm recovery. As of Thursday morning, 51 counties and 31 cities have declared states of emergency.

Weather Update

  • Multiple rounds of wintry weather crossed Kentucky overnight and will continue in some areas of the state Thursday, tapering off later in the evening.
  • Kentucky has received snow, sleet, freezing rain and cold rain through this system.
  • Frostbite and hypothermia can occur if people are outdoors for extended periods of time, especially in single-digit temperatures.
  • Winter storm warnings and advisories are still current for Kentucky.

Power Outages

  • There are widespread outages across eastern and southeastern Kentucky. As of noon, there were 70,249 Kentucky customers without power, with numerous counties reporting downed trees.
  • Power has been restored to approximately 85,000 customers after outages peaked at more than 154,000.
  • Power outages have also impacted traffic signals. Treat dark signals as four-way stops.
  • Clearing downed trees is an ongoing task in impacted areas. Division of Forestry crews are out in high-impact areas. Kentucky National Guard teams are on standby to assist the forestry crews to remove cut debris.
  • Friday afternoon Kentucky State Police will fly Kentucky Power employees to eastern Kentucky to assist in power restoration efforts.
  • Kentuckians experiencing a downed power line or power outage should contact their local utility company. Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows. Never use an outdoor grill, gas stovetop or gas oven to heat your home.

Road Conditions

  • KYTC crews are treating and plowing statewide and report most highly traveled priority A routes are passable. Plows are making headway on secondary, lower-volume routes. In eastern and northeastern Kentucky, the challenge of clearing roadways continues to be made even more difficult by countless downed trees and power lines.
  • All 16 KSP posts report for the third straight day that roads, particularly neighborhood and side roads, are snow-covered, slick and hazardous. At this time, KSP reports no interstate closures; however, portions of Interstate 75 around Richmond have one lane open.
  • While Ashland has no major road closures, several side roads are closed due to downed trees, and a significant number of Kentuckians remain without power.
  • Even if roads appear clear, drivers should still use caution. Freezing drizzle and black ice pose an invisible danger to drivers on the road. Drivers are reminded to slow down, buckle up and leave a large space cushion between other vehicles on the road.
  • A majority of KSP Driver Testing Branch locations are closed for the remainder of the week but are expected to reopen next week. Appointments will be automatically rescheduled for citizens who had written permit and skills tests scheduled for this week. Applicants do not need to reschedule online.

Wellness Support

  • More than 80 Kentucky National Guardsmen are currently assisting in Boyd, Carter, Crittenden, Elliott, Floyd, Jackson, Johnson, Laurel, Lawrence, Leslie, Magoffin, Menifee, Owsley, Rockcastle and Rowan Counties.
  • Guardsmen are assisting with wellness checks, transporting those in need to warming stations and shelters, providing crews to transport medical staff and providing debris removal teams to assist the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
  • There are currently 23 warming centers open, with another 23 on standby. There are nine emergency shelters open, with one on standby.
  • KSP troopers are also responding to wellness checks and helping Kentuckians as needed. If you need help, please contact a KSP post directly. KSP is requesting Kentuckians only utilize 911 for emergencies.