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By SHARON GRAVES
The phone lines in the dispatch office lit up and stayed that way for five hours Sunday, Sept. 14, as the winds from Hurricane Ike blew through Carroll County – 1,112 miles from Galveston, Texas, where it originally came ashore.
The sustained winds damaged trees, houses and barns from Carrollton to Sanders, and from Ghent to Kings Ridge Road. Carroll County Sheriff Ben Smith said wind gusts were clocked at 60-75 mph throughout the afternoon.
According to Weather.com, after hitting Texas, Ike twisted on a northeasterly path, causing damage in 12 other states including Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The Weather Channel stated that wind damage was reported in 50 percent of the state of Kentucky, leaving a total of 550,000 households without electricity. LG&E is still struggling to bring Louisville residents back online.
In Carrollton, power was knocked out at homes mostly along Highland Avenue, where several large trees and limbs fell onto utility lines, and Seventh and Ninth streets.
Carrollton Dispatch received three to four times as many calls as they normally do on any given Sunday afternoon, said Randy Tharp, Carrollton fire chief and 911 supervisor. Dispatchers fielded calls about downed power lines, downed trees and other similar problems througout the windstorm.
The city of Sanders remained without power as of press time Tuesday.
Ghent City Clerk Bulinda Willis said that town, too, suffered a lot of damaged trees, but only one resident lost power because of the storm. And only one home received major damage, Willis said: A large tree fell on the home of Wayne and Shawna Llewellyn, damaging a bathroom that had just been completed.
“Every fire department, rescue squad, city and county road department, and the Kentucky State Police in the county were called out,” said Ed Webb, director of the county’s emergency operations services.
Usually, hurricanes bring soaking gentle rains to this part of the country, but this time Ike only brought the strong, damaging winds.
“I’ve seen the wind blow this hard for a few minutes, but not hour after hour – and with the sun still shining,” Smith said Monday.
It was a sentiment echoed countywide. “We’ve had some pretty bad storms here in Carroll County, but I’ve never seen anything like Sunday,” Webb said.
“I’ve lived here all these years, and have never seen anything like this,” said Pat Perkins, a Carrollton resident on Winslow Street.
Bill Dermon of Sanders, who was out with his son Michael, who was clearing debris, agreed. “I’ve been here all my life, and I haven’t seen anything like it.”
Tharp said he brought his own tractor into town to help move trees. “I’ve never seen that much sustained wind,” he said.
Frank Repper of Carrollton said he spent most of Monday cleaning up debris and repairing his roof.
Martha Moorman of Tilley Drive said she was in Vevay, Ind., with a group watching a performance at the Hoosier Theatre when the lights went out. This time, the show couldn’t go on.
“When I got back, my neighbor’s tree had come down and damaged my shed and the gutters on my house,” Moorman said.
Dispite the damage, there were no injuries reported in Carroll County, officials said.
“We’ve proved that we’re a fortunate community in that we have first responders that all pull together in a situation like that,” Webb said.
When the storm hit, Carrollton Police officer Tim Gividen was the sole officer on duty. Assistant Chief Steve Abbott called in reinforcements, and officers spent the rest of the day and much of the night directing traffic, and coordinating efforts with the fire department and the rescue squad, Abbott said Monday.
Mitchell Perkins, deputy director of emergency management, said the wind was blowing so hard it was physically painful; he said grit from the road stung as it dug into exposed skin.
Mayor Dwight Louden rolled up his sleeves and began helping to set up barricades and assist work crews Sunday afternoon. He said he was at Seventh and Sycamore streets when he heard when circuit-breakers blow, knocking the power out. He said it sounded like a shotgun.
But crews worked quickly to clear up debris, he said. “By 6 p.m., every street in Carrollton was open except Seventh Street.”
Cliff Feltham, Kentucky Utilities spokesperson said that they cover 77 counties throughout the state and they had 75,000 customers without power at one time. As of Monday afternoon, the Carroll County area had 1500 customers that were still without power.
Feltham said despite rumors, KU had not sent linemen to help recovery efforts in Texas. They did, however, send 250 contractors to Louisiana, “but we’ve called them back here.”
“We are chipping away at getting everybody back online, and we are asking everyone to be patient,” he said. “There is no switch we can pull to put 100 customers back online. We basically have to go house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, reconnecting everybody.”
Carrollton Utilities Manager Bill Osborne said that his crews only had to shut the gas off at one house in Carrollton.
"We did not lose power for very long, and we have two sewer systems, Glencoe and Happy Hollow without power and no emergency generators," Osborne said. "Other stations are operating on emergency generators, and the wastewater plant is operating on an emergency generator at a cost of $1,000 per day. Our crews are helping the public works department, and we hope to have everything back to normal by the end of the week."
Editor Phyllis McLaughlin contributed to this report.