LG&E: Hospitals, schools are priorities; discovery of more downed lines could slow return of power - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LG&E: Hospitals, schools are priorities; discovery of more downed lines could slow return of power

Frustrations are growing as the region enters its third day in the dark. Louisville Gas and Electric has said it was one of the worst storms in the utility's history.

In the distribution control center also known as the "trouble room" LG&E personnel deal with residential and commercial outages. On a typical Tuesday night there are three dispatchers working around the clock on the groundfloor of LG&E's office at 9th and Broadway. But after the after hurricane forced winds whipped through the region Sunday, the office has been staffing at least 10 dispatchers.

Downstairs in the building's basement, the public safety response team is flooded with calls.  The part-time group's task is specifically to deal with downed lines. More than 400 trucks with crews are said to be on the road. And after three days, more than 182,000 homes are still without power.

"It's been like a movie. A little drama, live action, sadness comedy. I was getting ready to watch the NFL - heard a noise - the power went off. It's been off ever since," said Robert Gilbert, a storm victim.

His house is the only one on this stretch of Breckinridge St. in Smoketown without power.

"I guess they put us on the list. They will get to us when they can," said Gilbert.

Gilbert is calm but others have been frustrated -- claiming they haven't seen utility trucks in their neighborhoods.

"I can understand the frustration if you don't see them. But this (storm) went through the entire service area that we had," said David Guy, LG&E's System Restoration Director.

Power is restored based on a sliding hierarchy. Areas near hospitals and schools are near the top of the list.

"We take care of our emergency areas first. Then we try to get the biggest bulk customer base back on," said Guy.

Restoring power could be more difficult than initially expected. Crews are finding situations like trees entangled in powerlines. Initially, it was reported that 3,000 power lines were down. Now that number has spike to more than 6,000.

Another problem that's slowing down repairs are utility poles that are either cracked or broken. They will have to be replaced. LG&E's David Guy says that could slow down the timetable for power being restored.

"It's frustrating and it's also kinda calming," said Jerry Goetz, a storm victim.

Calming in the sense that -- for some -- it's out of their control. Being frustrated almost seems futile.

"Everybody in here is very trained, very qualified. It just takes time," said Guy.

"I try to be upbeat. I know they'll eventually get to it," said Gilbert.

In the meantime, LG&E says there have been a number of scam artists telling residents they need to leave their homes for two to five days. That's certainly not the case. All LG&E personnel wear I.D. badges. If you have questions you can feel free to call the utility.

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