Governor issues state of emergency in response to winter storm

Published 3:23 pm Thursday, February 11, 2021

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Gov. Andy Beshear issued a state of emergency declaration Thursday as a dangerous winter storm blanketed much of the state in a mix of snow and ice amid plunging temperatures.

“This winter storm already is causing some very dangerous conditions across much of the state, with iced-over roadways and downed power lines putting our people at risk,” the governor said. “This declaration will free up funding and boost coordination across agencies as we respond to this weather crisis and work to keep all Kentuckians safe.”

The state of emergency directs the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management and the Department of Military Affairs to execute an emergency operations plan and coordinate the response across state agencies and private relief groups. It also directs the Finance and Administration Cabinet to provide funding for the response and authorizes the Division of Emergency Management to request additional resources.

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As of about 10 a.m. EST Thursday, KYEM was aware of about 70,500 Kentucky customers with power outages.

Multiple crashes and intermittent closures on interstates, parkways and major routes across the state occurred Wednesday night into Thursday morning because of icy roads, and downed trees and power lines.

Transportation crews treated roads throughout the night as breaks in the weather allowed. There have been widespread reports of downed trees and limbs, with the most impact in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Partners, including the Kentucky Division of Forestry, are helping with tree removal.

“Our crews worked overnight and are out in full force treating and plowing to maintain mobility along critical routes,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray. “The damaging effects of fallen debris and frigid temperatures create additional challenges and delays. It’s going to take days to recover from this event. We plead for the patience of the public and ask for their help by staying off the roads if possible.”

Kentuckians are encouraged to visit for travel information and links to follow social media pages for transportation updates.

Early Thursday morning, Beshear closed all state offices for the day to reduce traffic on perilous roadways.

Wednesday, the governor said the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management activated its state emergency operations center to monitor the storm system and coordinate with critical emergency support function partners in transportation, law enforcement, power and utilities. The center remains activated at level 3.

Also on Wednesday, the governor updated Kentuckians about preparations being made by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; plans to address postponed vaccination appointments and safeguard vaccine supplies; and safety information on the use of alternative heat sources.