Frankfort, KY: Responding to the current winter storm crisis, Governor Ernie Fletcher's office has declared a state of emergency for central and western Kentucky. The declared counties include: McLean, Hancock, Livingston, Hopkins, City of Providence, City of Owensboro, City of Falmouth, City of Butler, Todd, Daviess, Crittenden, Carlisle, Shelby, Muhlenberg, Pendleton, Bullitt and Grayson. Additional counties are expected to be declared as local authorities assess the damage.
Power outages are widespread, although since this morning, many of the areas have been brought back up. Most of the power outages occurred in Hardin, Larue, Shelby, Fayette, Franklin, Pendleton, Bracken, and Owen County, and Bluegrass District, as well as the Salt River District. At the peak there were an estimated 30,000 customers without power. Restoration efforts continue.
Potential health and safety issues are of immediate concern, given the extreme cold weather for those motorists who are still stranded, people without power and facilities that have lost power and are without backup power. Kentucky Emergency Management officials report shelters have been identified in many local areas. These are operated at the local jurisdiction level, and have included Nelson, Henderson, Davies, Scott, Trig, Grayson, Washington and Franklin County. Local Emergency Management staff will continue to be on alert to assist if further shelters need to be opened. Residents who are in need of shelter information should contact their county emergency management directors.
"While parts of the state were hit pretty hard by the storm, the men and women of Kentucky Emergency Management and the Kentucky National Guard are working hard to ensure the safety of the citizens in those affected areas," said Major General Donald C. Storm, Adjutant General for Kentucky. "We are continuing to assess and respond to the situation as it changes. It is our responsibility as Kentucky's primary response force to help meet the basic human needs of everyone in our great commonwealth."
Local emergency personnel are starting to clear debris from roads, assist stranded motorists and identify extent of damage due to ice and snow.
KENTUCKY NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVITY
Beginning at 11:30 last night the Kentucky National Guard began putting soldiers on the road in preparation for the emergency. There are currently 40 Soldiers on duty in western Kentucky in response to the recent winter storm emergency. Originating from armories in Benton, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, Marion, Murray and Owensboro, 22 of those troops are using humvees to extract stranded motorists from their vehicles on state highways.
An additional 18 Soldiers are preparing 9 military wreckers to assist in clearing abandoned vehicles blocking traffic along I-24 in Logan, Caldwell and Trigg counties. Those Soldiers expected to be on site sometime later this morning.
Throughout the night Kentucky Army National Guard troops were called upon to perform other missions as well. Soldiers have delivered baby formula and diapers to families in stranded vehicles desperate for relief and in one instance troops rescued a family with an expectant mother along I-24.
Kentucky Soldiers have also responded to lives at risk by the winter storm, most notably in the case where National Guard troops in a humvee transported a paramedic to a reported heart attack victim stranded on I-24. The patient was then transported to Calloway County hospital for further treatment.
The Kentucky National Guard troops are expected to be on duty for at least two days.