Washed out roads, severity of damage hamper power restoration in flooded parts of eastern Kentucky

Karla Ward, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Weather News

LEXINGTON, Ky. — As search and rescue operations continue in eastern Kentucky counties affected by catastrophic flooding, thousands of people remained without power Saturday.

Many may be without electricity for some time.

As of Saturday morning, Kentucky Power said it had 15,789 customers still without power, the vast majority of whom were in Breathitt, Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry and Pike counties.

“As crews are able to get in the severely damaged areas, they are reporting that entire sections of circuits are destroyed and will have to be redesigned and rebuilt,” Kentucky Power said in a news release Saturday morning. “Roads and terrain are so damaged to the extent that crews cannot rebuild in the same areas.”

The company said efforts to restore power for people in Breathitt, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties will continue “well into next week,” while most Leslie County customers and people in the South Williamson area should have electricity back on by Saturday night, and 95% of people in Floyd and Pike counties should have power by Sunday night, assuming they don’t have damage to their home or meter loop.

“Restoration estimates are for customers whose property is in condition to receive power,” Kentucky Power said. “If the electric service entrance (meter loop) to your home or business has been damaged or pulled away from the structure, you will need to have it repaired in accordance with the National Electric Code before Kentucky Power can re-connect service.”

The company said more than 700 people were working to restore power Saturday, including crews from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Drones and a helicopter were being used to assess damage in areas that still couldn’t be reached by vehicle.


Kentucky Power said Saturday morning that it has already restored power to more than 7,500 customers since the height of the outage.

“Our damaged substations have been temporarily restored through switching and load transfers from other sources,” Kentucky Power said. “In some cases, crews had to disassemble equipment, manually clean out mud and debris, make repairs, inspect and test to ensure proper operation. The Topmost substation received up to five feet of water.”

The company said that as of Friday night, it had logged reports of “more than 60 broken poles, 17 damaged transformers, 50 broken cross arms and over 225 spans of downed wire.”

“Assessment in some areas is still impossible due to areas that are inaccessible from high water or washed out roads.,” Kentucky Power said.


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