By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
As sleet became huge fluffy snowflakes that blanketed Laurel County on Sunday afternoon, officials report relatively few problems overall.
There were some minor accidents, several motorist assist calls and power outages, but officials state that local residents handled the snowstorm well.
Kentucky State Police Post 11 in London answered 21 calls over Sunday’s snow that still laid on some roadways on Monday. David Anders, supervisor of the KSP Dispatch at Post 11, said there were only four accidents with minor injuries.
“A lot of the accidents were just people hitting a slick spot and sliding into a guardrail or ditchline,” Anders said. “That’s normally what happens in bad weather like we had Sunday. But there were really few minor accidents and no fatalities.”
Laurel Dispatch sent police out on eight accidents, with three of the accidents reported on Monday morning. Supervisor Keith Schoolcraft said none of the accidents reported to Laurel Dispatch reported any injuries.
Sgt. Greg Reams with the KSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement said 17 calls for accidents and assistance were reported to their office over the weekend.
“There were only three in Laurel County,” Reams said. “The storm had been predicted and I think people were expecting worse than we got and were prepared for it.”
Reams said most of the accidents his department responded to were minor incidents where “someone maybe slid off the road.”
“It was much better than if this had come on a work day when people were out. With it being on a Sunday, there were less people out,” he said. “If there is a good time for a storm, Sunday was the best time.”
Deputy Gilbert Acciardo with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said his department had relatively few callsover the weekend snow.
“We had very few accidents,” Acciardo said. “I think the drivers did a very good job this time about staying in and being careful drivers when they were out.”’
London City Police reported a low number of calls as well. Captain Derek House said city officers responded to more motorist assist calls than accidents during Sunday’s snowfall.
“We didn’t have a large number of accidents,” House said. “Most people did well about staying in. We did have a few calls from I-75 and had five motorist assistants within the city.”
House added there were six accidents answered by his department, with only one minor injury reported.
“That’s pretty good for the weather we had,” he said, “and better than most.”
While some Laurel County homes were without electricity, even those outages were few, according to power company officials.
Jackson Energy customers in the Lily area were without power early Monday morning, according to Jackson Energy Director of Public Relations Karen Combs. Approximately 110 homes were without power when a tree fell across a line and caused the outage around 4:30 a.m. Combs reports that power was restored around 8 a.m.
Clay County was much harder hit, Combs said, with more than 1,300 homes without power after five inches of snow fell on Sunday.
“Jackson Energy crews worked through the night making repairs,” Combs said, adding that most repairs were completed around noon Monday.
Some City of London residents experienced temporary power outages as well, which Kentucky Utilities spokesperson Cliff Feltham said were primarily due to fallen trees across power lines.
“We had 125 people without power on Braxton Lane when a tree fell into the lines,” he said. “That was on Sunday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. We had some others that affected less than 50 people and then just one to two people were the line between the pole and house.”
Road crews were challenged to clear the roadways during Sunday’s rapid snowfall that swept across southeastern Kentucky and into other southeastern states.
State road crews hit the roads just as the snow began around 1 p.m. Sunday and continued to clear and salt the roadways in and around Laurel County until 1 p.m. on Monday.
“We had exactly a 24-hour shift and we did real well, considering the amount of snow,” said Johnathan Dobson, spokesperson for the Cabinet of Transportation’s Manchester office.
County road crews were also out in full force to keep roadways as clear as possible. Mike Gilbert, County Road Supervisor, said his crews began clearing and salting the roads around 2:30 p.m. and continued to work through the night and into Monday. An estimated 20 tons of salt was used during this winter episode.
“We had three crews out clearing roads and trees. We’re still cleaning up trees today (Tuesday),” Gilbert said. “The trees were down mostly in the southeastern corner of the county. It was like a ring from Lily to East (Ky.) 80,” he said. “It was hectic but all went well overall.”