By Eugenia Jones
Izzy, last weekend’s winter storm, transformed McCreary County into a winter wonderland with five to seven inches of glistening white snow, sparkling ice, and cold temperatures. Despite her frigid beauty, Izzy left a trail of obstacles behind for McCreary County residents and first responders.
From the storm’s arrival on Saturday, January 15 until Monday, January 17, McCreary County’s 911 reported a total of twenty status/welfare checks were conducted by local law enforcement in the three day period. Status checks are in-person visits from law enforcement officers, especially in response to requests by friends or family members who are concerned about another individual’s health and/or safety.
First responders also answered calls from nine motor vehicle accidents with injuries and a minimum of thirteen vehicle accidents without injuries.
Both state and county road crews stayed busy clearing snow, ice, and fallen tree limbs from McCreary County roadways. During Izzy’s stormy weekend, McCreary County’s State Highway (District 8) crew of 15 workers used six salt/plow trucks to spread 207 tons of salt and 1,000 gallons of calcium over 425 single lane miles.
As of Tuesday morning, the local County Road Department’s seven member crew had spread approximately 250 tons of salt with six salt/plow trucks. Unfortunately, the crew faced obstacles of their own with all six of their trucks breaking down at one point or another during the storm. Additionally, the crew was left shorthanded because three of their seven members were sick and literally, “under the weather.” The crew welcomed two members of the county’s solid waste transfer crew who volunteered to help with the roads. County road workers also stayed busy clearing trees and limbs out of roadways.
EMS Director Jimmy Barnett narrowed all runs down to utilize only the department’s three 4×4 vehicles.
“Things went fairly well,” Barnett said. “We used our three 4×4 trucks (ambulances) and were able to get around with no tows and no trucks harmed in the process. All in all, things went smoothly.”
Many McCreary Countians lost electrical power during Storm Izzy. Initial data indicated a total of 869 McCreary County customers lost power during and after the storm. At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, 420 were without power. South KY RECC (SKRECC), which is McCreary County’s largest supplier of electricity, reported 2,000 residents in McCreary County were affected at peak outage. According to SKRECC, approximately thirty of their crew members worked in McCreary County which was the hardest hit area in the SKRECC service territory. Northern McCreary County and Pine Knot were the hardest hit SKRECC areas. Two additional utility companies who serve McCreary County-Cumberland Valley Electric and Kentucky Utilities-also reported local outages during the storm.
SKRECC’s Joy Bullock advised residents to be prepared for winter storm outages at this time of year, especially those who rely on electrical medical assistance, such as oxygen.
“Have a plan in place,” Bullock cautioned. “Know what you are going to do if you have an outage.”
Of course, despite the problems, Izzy provided lots of opportunity for kids of all ages to enjoy sledding, building snowmen, making snow angels, drinking hot chocolate, feeding the birds, and enjoying a bit of wintry weather in McCreary County.