Whitesburg KY

County road workers battle breakdowns, cold as more bad weather is on the way

A winter storm warning has been issued for Letcher County for tonight through Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackson.

An inch of snow is in the forecast for tonight. Saturday’s forecast includes snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain.

In addition to the possibility of one to six inches of snow over the weekend, a quarter inch of ice accumulation may cause power outages and hazardous road conditions, the NWS said.

On Friday morning, 342 of 11,747 Kentucky Power customers living in Letcher County were without electricity. Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said he was told by representatives with American Electric Power that electricity should be restored by Friday afternoon to outage areas in Cowan, Dunham and Fleming-Neon.

Ward said he would wait until Friday afternoon to decide whether to open emergency shelters. If electricity is not restored by later today, Ward said Ermine Senior Citizens Center and the Hemphill Community Center would operate as emergency shelters.

Ward said if houses have electricity, people are better off staying at their homes than attempting to get out in the cold to travel to shelters. Those who have been trapped in their homes because of current conditions and need food or assistance can call the judge’s office at 633-2129 or Letcher County Emergency Management at 633-0429.

The county road department has had nine trucks equipped with snowplows and salt spreaders out since Monday, when eight to 12 inches of snow accumulated throughout Letcher County. Two county trucks are broken down, but Ward said one of the trucks should be back on the road today.

“We’ve had breakdowns, wrecks,” said Ward. “You name it. It has happened. We’re still out working.”

County road employees are working 12 to 14 hours a day trying to maintain 850 miles of county roads, Ward said.

“It’s so cold and the snow is so deep,” said Ward. “If it’s steep we can’t get up the roads. If it will get up to 20 degrees we can do a better job. Our spreaders won’t freeze up and can get more salt and gravel out.”

Ward said the county road department would be out all weekend working roads.

“We’re supposed to get more snow, freezing rain and sleet,” said Ward.

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