Tornadoes Devastate Service Areas but
Not the Cooperative Spirit
A few tornadoes struck in Kentucky electric cooperative service areas on Leap Day but two days later some of the most devastating to hit in a long time ripped through several more service areas.
Damage was extensive.
From as far west as Kenergy Corp’s service area in Hancock County to as far east as Martin County in Big Sandy RECC’s service area, 10 tornadoes touched down with EF1 to EF4 magnitudes.
Twenty-four Kentucky lives were lost. Twenty-one Kentucky counties–almost all served by Kentucky electric cooperatives–were eligible for Individual Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). By mid-March, the agency topped more than $4 million in tornado recovery aid.
Some of the hardest hit areas were West Liberty and Salyersville. The tornado that devastated those areas stayed on the ground for 86 miles.
Almost all communications were lost in those areas but that didn’t stop brethren electric cooperatives from immediately coming to the aid of co-ops that suffered severe damage.
“I arrived in West Liberty around midnight and brought a satellite phone,” says Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives Safety & Loss Prevention Instructor David White. “At about 6 p.m. on March 2 we couldn’t get good contact with Licking Valley. They had no landlines, no cell phone service. I was the closest so I took the phone.”
David eventually ran into Licking Valley RECC Manager Kerry Howard and they went to see how intact the main office was in West Liberty. Only a few windows were blown but just a few structures away the line of tornado damage that wiped out the town could be seen.
Another blow to service restoration was the snowfall–dumping up to a foot in some areas–that hit eastern Kentucky on March 4. Among the many other electric cooperative line technicians sent to provide help, several more were sent after the snowfall.
As soon as help was dispatched to those co-ops in need, so too were line materials through United Utility Supply. UUS sent several truckloads of hardware, line splices, and rolls of guy wire to distribution co-ops within hours.
Trucks arrived on March 3 to Licking Valley, Owen Electric Cooperative, and Clark County Rural Electric Membership Corp in Sellersburg, IN—the hardest hit Indiana co-op. Four truckloads were sent March 3 and three more on March 4.
After initial assessments of storm damage, United began shipping customized orders based upon damage reports from operations personnel in the field.
Kentucky Electric Co-ops that Sustained Damage
Big Sandy RECC
East Kentucky Power
Licking Valley RECC
Kentucky Electric Co-ops that Assisted in Power Restoration
Blue Grass Energy
Big Sandy RECC
Kentucky Association of
Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
4515 Bishop Lane * Louisville, KY 40218
502-451-2430 * FAX: 502-459-3209