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Five dead, thousands without power in Ky. following thunderstorms and high winds

A tree is completely uprooted and lying in the front yards of two houses. The house to the right has sustained some damage from the tree.
Breya Jones
Downed power lines, fallen trees and structural damage were reported across the state following Friday's thunderstorms and dangerous winds.

Storms that brought winds exceeding 70 mph damaged power lines, trees and structures across Kentucky.

Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed five people have died following storms and high winds that moved through Kentucky on Friday.

At a news conference Saturday, Beshear said Simpson, Edmonson, Fayette, Bath and Logan counties all have confirmed deaths.

Dangerous winds that exceeded 70 mph downed power lines and trees and damaged structures across the state.

Beshear declared a state of emergency ahead of the storms.

There were tornados reported in the western part of the state, in Christian and McCracken counties.

Beshear said the western part of the state saw the most damage, with the central part of the state being hit hard by dangerous winds.

Across the state, Beshear reported nearly 400,000 people without power. Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities' outage map showed more than 195,000 without power in their service region, as of Saturday afternoon.

“We've secured more than 1,000 resources [workers] from utilities around our neighboring states,” LG&E media relations manager Liz Pratt said.

Pratt said the utility provider is currently in the protection phase — responding to downed power lines — and wouldn’t be able to provide a timeline for when services will be back until they move into the restoration phase.

“We will continue to move forward with repairing any damages whenever possible. Crews will make temporary repairs to give us that ability to restore power and then come back to make longer-term repairs that might be needed,” Pratt said.

Additionally, Beshear said nearly 2,000 Kentuckians are under a boil water advisory. Five water districts — Barkley Lake, Edmonson County, Scottsville, Campbellsville and Greensburg — are working under limited operations.

“Most of these systems, the impact isn’t from wind damage to the water system itself; it’s the lack of power to the water system,” he said.

Beshear said the Division of Forestry is out clearing roads, with help from one National Guard unit.

The governor said he will continue to provide updates via social media.

In Louisville, Mayor Craig Greenberg declared a state of emergency Friday night as high winds caused damage across the city.

At a separate Saturday morning news conference, Greenberg said the city is working with state officials for recovery efforts.

“Please go ahead and get in touch with your insurance company,” Greenberg said. “We will have information in the coming days about the opportunities to participate in our recovery.”

Greenberg said crews have been working around the clock to respond to the damage caused by the storm. He said the city anticipates all roads will reopen by the end of Saturday.

Metro Public Works reported widespread issues with traffic signals.

“Crews are dispatched to assess damage and initiate repairs,” Emergency Operations Coordinator Jason Brandt said. “We will continue working with LG&E to restore all traffic signals.”

Brandt said people should treat intersections with traffic light outages as four-way stops to prevent accidents.

Plans for centralized debris drop-off locations are expected to be announced Sunday or Monday.

Until then, Brandt said residents are encouraged to drop off debris for free at the Waste Reduction Center, located at 636 Meriwether Ave.

Louisville Metro Emergency Services executive director Jody Meiman said they received thousands of calls from residents and have brought in additional people to help manage the high volume.

He urged people to only call 911 for emergencies.

“We’ve opened [Metro311] for the weekend to report other issues that you need, other city services,” Meiman said.

People can report downed power lines to LG&E at 502-589-1444 or the MetroSafe nonemergency line at 502-574-2111.

Meiman said people should be aware of dangers that can happen after power comes back on and potential surges. He reminded people to not use generators indoors or ovens as a means to heat a home, and to avoid downed power lines.

Several officials reiterated that residents should assume power lines are live even if they are on the ground, and to avoid walking or driving over them.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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