Storm Aftermath: Updates on Schools, Power, Gas, Guard

by kespeland on September 16, 2008

National Guard Troops Called Up to Help with Storm Aftermath
With hundreds of thousands of residents still without power, roads blocked by debris, and intersections still touch and go, Governor Steve Beshear has offered up Kentucky National Guard troops to help the city recover.  Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says that more than a hundred troops will help metro employees with a broad range of tasks:

“….from residential debris, from supporting LG&E crews, as well as making sure that where a downed line exists that we have a person there,” Abramson says.

Abramson says some Guard members will help direct traffic at intersections without power.  Their presence should help double the number of intersections covered.

Gas at a Premium; Long Lines at Open Stations
Reports of long lines at gas stations that are open have accompanied reports of price spikes.  To help ease the flow of gas into the area, Governor Steve Beshear says that he’s asking the Environmental Protection Agency to allow us to use other kinds of gas.  Also, Beshear says he’s asked for permit fees and hours of operation restrictions to be lifted for commercial vehicles.

“This will allow for faster delivery of much needed gas and will help facilitate ongoing utility repairs,” Beshear said.

Beshear has also declared a state of emergency in Kentucky, which means additional funding for clean up efforts.  In addition, more than a hundred national guard troops will be arriving in Louisville to help clear debris and assist metro employees with directing traffic, among other jobs.

Public Schools Could Stay Closed Much of Week
Jefferson County Public Schools remain closed Tuesday because of power outages from Sunday’s windstorm.  It could be some time before kids can return.  As of Monday evening, 50 schools out of 154 had power.  But it may take much of the week to restore power to all of them.  Schools superintendent Sheldon Berman says parents should make plans for the entire week – just in case – although he couldn’t confirm exactly how long schools will remain closed. Berman also says that there’s more to reopening than simply restoring power.

“Once we get power we have to reset everything, reset the computers, make sure that everything is operational in the school, so it takes us a little time to bring it back,” Berman says.

School administration staff will be working, but teachers will not return until students are back.  Meanwhile, LG&E has doubled the number of staff working to repair power lines and put up new poles.

Winds Cause Largest Power Outage in Kentucky History
Governor Steve Beshear announced that Kentucky is still recovering from the largest power outage in its history.  At the peak of Sunday’s windstorm, more than half a million people were without power.  Hundreds of thousands are still in the dark.  LG&E spokesman Chris Herman says the company has doubled the number of staff working to restore power.  The process could take up to two weeks because of the number of downed lines.

“We’re over 5300 wire downs, and we have to go and check on those individually,” Herman said.

Herman says restringing downed power lines takes less time than actually replacing power poles.  Nearly 300 of those came down in the storm.  He says the outages are widespread.  The focus will be on restoring critical services first, such as those to police and fire stations.  Power is still out at many of those stations.

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