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Old man winter slapped Anderson County and most of Kentucky square in the chops late last January, blanketing us first with an inch of ice followed by several inches of snow.
The storm, widely considered the worst of its kind in the state’s history, fell trees and power lines across Anderson County, leaving thousands shivering in the dark and hundreds seeking shelter.
The city and county declared states of emergency, triggering shelters to open as dozens fled from their dark, freezing homes.
The storm also knocked out power to each of the county fire stations. Power was restored and
Charlie O’Neal, who at the time directed emergency management for the city and county, said the storm didn’t cause as much damage locally as the ice storm of 2003, but is clearly the worst he’s seen statewide.
“It’s the most statewide devastation I’ve seen in my career since I started working in emergency response in 1972 as a volunteer fireman,” O’Neal said.
Dozens of homes were damaged by falling trees and limbs, which also clipped power lines across the county and sent power crews scrambling to get electricity restored.
One family lost its home on Bonds Mill Road when it caught fire and was destroyed. Candles were later blamed.
Although the storm knocked power out to thousands in the city, many never lost power, including Main Street and most businesses.
County residents weren’t nearly as fortunate, especially those in the county’s western end and Glensboro area, where entire rows of utility poles fell like dominos.
“A person down on [Highway] 53 told me they were down there and watched the first pole break,” said farmer
Forrest Stevens, who also serves as a magistrate on the Anderson County Fiscal Court. “They watched the whole section of poles fall, one after another. It pulled them down all away across the ridge between Glensboro and [Highway] 62.”
The city and county established debris sites for homeowners to dispose of downed limbs and trees, but getting the mess cleaned up along county roads wasn’t easy.
Despite a state contract signed by the governor, several contractors showed up here and left hours later, unwilling to haul debris from the county’s most rural portions for what the state was willing to pay.
Highway foreman Chip Chambers said his crew and a group of subcontractors hired by the county cleared at least 1,000 trees from county roads during a two-day stretch.
“And that’s not counting the ones the dump trucks just pushed out of the way,” he said.
“We started Tuesday night at midnight, doing nothing but clearing a path big enough for cars to get through.”
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E-mail Ben Carlson at email@example.com.