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It’s lights back on for many in Harrison County

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By Becky Barnes

According to Blue Grass Energy Wednesday morning figures, 466 households were without electricity. Kentucky Utilities still had 50 customers awaiting restoration on Tuesday afternoon. However, those were expected to be back on by late Wednesday.

Cliff Feltham, KU statewide media relations manager, said KU initially had about 1,500 customers in Cynthiana and Harrison County and 135,000 customers system-wide without power.

He said 68 percent of those have been restored.

Feltham said what is left  now is primarily individual services where a line may be down going into a home.

He said KU has had the help of crews from out of state to get electric back on.

“We just sent out a blanket request,” Feltham said. “They came from north, south, east and west.”

He described the staging area for the out-of-state crews as “a big army deployment of people and resources.”

Likewise, BGE has had crews in Harrison County from other areas.

The men have been working 12 hours shifts to bring Harrison County’s numbers from 3,232 at peak outage to the 466 on Wednesday.

Crews were working in the areas of Moore Road, Jones Lane, Turkey Lane, White Oak Tricum, Emerald and Hinton Webber.

Service men were dealing with tree limbs on lines, circuits that were down and trees that were blocking roadways, said Megan Howard, BGE media representative.

Throughout the BGE system, there were 85 broken poles, 238 downed lines and 103 downed service lines (the lines that run from the transformer to the home or business).

On Wednesday morning, 4,846 BGE customers were still without power in the 23-county district. However, many counties have had 100 percent restoration.

At one time, BGE officials estimated that it would be two weeks for the entire district was back to 100 percent.

“At this point, we’re beginning to concentrate on the single outages. That means we need our members who still do not have power, and those who are without power but their neighbors are on, to please call our automated outage number, 888-655-4243,” said Cathryn Gibson, vice president of member services. “We need them to leave their address, name and whether they are staying at home or elsewhere. We truly regret this inconvenience for our members, but we do expect power to be completely restored by this weekend.”

Bluegrass Energy District Manager Carol Higdon said 700 men were working in the area to restore power to those still without. “We’re still finding lines down,” said Higdon. “That’s the kind of stuff that slows you down.”

With a kitchen filled with food and drinks, Higdon said crews were fed a hot breakfast each morning before leaving Bluegrass Energy at 5:30 a.m. “They fill paper bags with food to last them for the day,” said Higdon, adding that it was sometimes difficult to get the men to stop working. “They’re so passionate about what they do,” she said.

Bluegrass Energy phone operators and personnel are working 12-hour shifts to assist with the overflow of calls and crews. “We have someone on the phones all the time,” Higdon said. “Everyone does everything... it’s all hands on deck.”

And while the snow/ice storm has made work difficult for employees and crews, Higdon said it was exactly what they were trained to do. “When it comes to something like this, that’s when we shine,” she said.

Danny Northcutt, Harrison County Water Association manager, said he had five towers without electricity for a period, but the flow was not hampered.

The Switzer tank, which serves the Connersville/Leesburg area had an electric break within 200 feet of the pump station. Some customers on the ridge tops were likely without water, Northcutt said.

A boil water advisory was issued for that area, but it has since been lifted.

“It’s difficult to boil water if you don’t have electricity,” Northcutt said.

County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett and the Harrison County Water Association had bottled water available at Connersville Christian Church and Leesburg Christian Church for those residents.

“We were really lucky,” Northcutt said. “We really want to thank Judge Barnett.

He said Barnett was instrumental in getting power restored to those tanks that had lost electricity.