Officials urge residents to prepare for emergencies ahead of arctic front
A big winter storm is expected to hit the eastern and central parts of the country — including Kentucky and Southern Indiana — on Thursday. Temperatures will drop below freezing, with high winds, snow and rain forecasted through Christmas.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky as the arctic front approaches. He warned the mix of snow and icy roads is expected to create dangerous travel conditions and urged residents to get off the roads by midday Thursday.
“One of our biggest concerns is a flash freeze. That's when the temperatures drop very, very, very quickly. And any rain or snow that there is turns to ice and with our temperatures, it's going to be very difficult to thaw,” Beshear said.
Beshear also signed an executive order to protect Kentuckians in the case of price gouging of necessary supplies, like shovels, gas, food and household items. Residents are urged to report violations through the state attorney general’s website.
Safety precautions and storm preparedness
With the risk of frostbite, Beshear said he’s requested every county designate at least one warming center. He added people should fill their cars with gas and pack them with supplies in case of emergency travel.
“If you have to travel to that warming center and perhaps get stuck on the road, [pack] what you need to stay warm until we can come and get you,” Beshear said.
The Kentucky State Police has compiled a list of necessities residents should place in their cars ahead of the inclement weather. Those include phone chargers, blankets, jumper cables and a windshield scraper.
Kentucky State Parks are also prepared to offer emergency shelter for people in travel trailers at either Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonburg or Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park in Buckhorn.
Power outages are possible amid the expected weather conditions, and people may turn to generators and space heaters to stay warm. But those carry risks, too, like carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.
Jeremy Slinker, director of Kentucky’s Emergency Management, said residents should take measures to protect against hypothermia. He also recommended being cautious when using alternative heat sources — including never using generators indoors. Instead, residents should place them 10-15 feet away from homes, he said.
“Please use carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors,” Slinker said in a statement. “With these sub-zero temperatures, we also need people to dress in layers, as hypothermia is a real threat. And please take time to protect pets and livestock, which are also at threat.”
Space heaters should be placed at least three feet away from anything flammable and should always be plugged directly into a wall, never a surge protector or extension cord, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The American Red Cross recommends bringing all pets indoors. For those that must remain outside, make sure they can safely access food and water. If possible, create a small enclosure raised off the ground where they can shelter. Clean their feet or paws of road salt, and keep them away from antifreeze, which can prove fatal.
Slinker also urged people to prepare their homes, like making sure furnaces are functioning and pipes are insulated to prevent them from freezing over.
Preventing excess cold air from entering the home is necessary to avoid damage, according to Louisville Water. The agency recommends wrapping exposed pipes with insulation material, blocking vents to crawl spaces and closing garage doors if the house is built on a slab.
Allowing a tap to release a slow, steady stream of water and opening cabinet doors can help prevent pipes freezing.
Relevant accounts and websites to monitor and check for resources:
- Winter weather updates from Kentucky State Police on Facebook, Twitter and the agency’s website.
- Snow and ice travel resources, like priority route maps and highway updates.
- General traffic information and updates on roadway conditions.
- Kentucky Emergency Management’s weather preparedness information and tips.
- KSP’s emergency travel kit supplies list.
- Indiana Department of Transportation social media channels
- Indiana travel advisories can be found here
- To see real-time travel conditions and traffic cameras, visit 511in.org.
Community resources for So. Indiana, Louisville residents in need
Community groups are preparing for the brutally cold days ahead, in a season that’s already been cold early.
The Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana operates a white flag emergency shelter when temperatures drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Guests can check in at the shelter at 1902 Corydon Pike in New Albany between 7 and 10 p.m. TARC provides free rides to the bus stop at State and Elm streets, where staff begin picking up guests around 6:30 p.m.
On Christmas Day, the shelter will open at 5 p.m.
Director Leslea Townsend Cronin said the shelter has been open more days than it’s been closed since the season started Nov. 15. They’re also seeing more people visit than any year before.
“This shelter is open to anyone who needs shelter, not just those sleeping on the streets,” she said. “Anyone who needs to get out of the cold, anyone whose home is cold and [they] need to sleep and stay warm.
“We really want to make sure that people are staying healthy and making it through the winter alive.”
The shelter serves dinner and breakfast, and check out is 7 a.m. Staff will help guests get to other locations that are operating day services over the next few days.
Pets are welcome, but must be in a crate, which is provided.
Identification or proof of trying to get one is required.
Townsend-Cronin said the Coalition usually sees around 15 to 20 people a day this time of year when the shelter is open, with numbers going up around January and February.
“But this year, we're seeing quite a few more guests coming through our shelter during this time than we've seen in any other year,” she said.
Jim Moon, director at Catalyst Rescue Mission at 1727 DL Motley Way in Jeffersonville, said the shelter will welcome anyone who needs to get out of the cold from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. this Friday and Saturday. Moon said guests can then go to West Maple Street Baptist Church, 403 W. Maple St., where homeless outreach Jesus Cares at Exit 0 will be operating.
The City of Charlestown will also open the Arts and Enrichment Center at 999 Water Street this week for anyone who needs a warm place to stay. To request it to open, call (502) 523-3650.
Louisville shelters participating in Operation White Flag:
Wayside Christian Mission
432 E. Jefferson St.
Salvation Army Center of Hope
911 S. Brook St.
St. Vincent de Paul (Men only)
1034 S. Jackson St.
502-584-2480 ext. 224
Additional warming stations in Southern Indiana:
Nomad Church Collective
1423 E. Oak Street, New Albany
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Jesus Cares at Exit 0
West Maple Street Baptist Church
403 W. Maple Street, Jeffersonville
8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nomad Church Collective
1423 E. Oak Street, New Albany
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Knights of Columbus Christmas breakfast
809 E. Main Street, New Albany
St. Mark's United Church of Christ
222 E. Spring Street, New Albany
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This story has been updated to include information about space heater safety.