Six Hundred Thousand. That was the number of utility customers in the Commonwealth who lost power last September when the hurricane-force winds of former Hurricane Ike rushed through Kentucky. I thought that number would be hard to top. I sure as heck didn't think it would be topped less than a half-year later. But last week's massive ice storm accomplished that dubious feat, by more than 7000 customers, no less. Six Hundred Seven Thousand, One Hundred Fifty-Two is now the new benchmark. Man, what a storm!
We don't have to see 30" of snow or nights with sub-zero temperatures to make a particular winter season memorable. All it takes is ONE EVENT, ONE STORM. Remember 1994? South-Central KY was impacted by two major winter storms within the span of four weeks between mid-January and mid-February that season. Perhaps that February's ice storm is more memorable in the immediate Bowling Green/Glasgow areas for the hardship it caused on commerce and travel. Power was knocked out to almost 200,000 Kentucky residents (mostly on this side of the state and NOT Louisville or Lexington, I might add). For some in Glasgow, it was near the end of February before the lights came back on. Around $50 million dollars in damage occured along with some 150 injuries. I'd say moreso than the "Great Ice Storm of 1951", which is largely considered to be the worst ever for much of Kentucky, the February '94 event set the standard for "modern day" ice storms in our now more technologically-dependent society. I often wondered how another storm if similar magnitude would impact us in this internet/cell phone/p.d.a. era. Many of us are now finding out.
All the rest of my immediate family, and my wife's, reside in Daviess or McLean Counties. As you may know, the northwestern part of Kentucky was hit hard by "Ice Storm '09". In the wake of the storm last Tuesday, I had not heard boo from anyone there last week until Saturday night. That's when my mother called me on a static-filled cell phone to tell me everyone was okay. As I type this, they remain without power and have been told they may not receive it back for at least another two weeks. The same is true for my father and mother-in-law, who live in rural western Daviess County. At least all of them are staying in homes that feature a gas fireplace. My mom said, "You know, having no power or heat is no picnic, but times like this make you appreciate the little things we take for granted a lot." True mom, so true.
In the coming weeks, life will slowly return to normal for those hardest-hit by the ice storm. In the meantime, I encourage you to help those impacted by giving monetary donations to the American Red Cross, or dropping off items like bottled water, new standard pillows and pillow cases, and new blankets. A little goes a long way.