Severe cold weather hits

Cold weather is back with temperatures plummeting to near zero on Tuesday, resulting in over 100 Harlan County residents losing power.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley explained power was restored as quickly as possible.

“Early this morning, we were notified that Kentucky Utilities had some power outages,” Mosley said. “At one time, between 100 and 150 customers were without electricity. We made the decision immediately to open the courthouse as a warming station. Also, Christ’s Hands was open during this time and the Harlan Center graciously opened their doors for anyone who wanted to come in and get warm.”

Mosley said in the Tri-Cities area, both Cumberland City Hall and the Benham Schoolhouse Inn opened their doors for those needing a place to warm up.

“It certainly has been a cold weekend,” Mosley said. “We received snowfall yesterday that was not expected, our road department was out treating roads most of the day. Winter has definitely set in.”

Mosley said local fire departments performed well being checks.

“We appreciate the Sunshine Fire Department, they performed checks to make sure people in the areas impacted by the outage — Airport Road, Keith and Black Bottom — were OK,” Mosley said. “The Cumberland Fire Department did so up their way in the Kingdom Come area as well.”

Mosley said the courthouse will be open during extremely cold weather as needed.

“Harlan County is a great place because we have a lot of community partners who are willing to help when times like this arise,” Mosley said. “As of noon today (Tuesday) everybody’s power was restored. We’re grateful to the utility crews for working diligently to get people’s power restored as quickly as possible.”

Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill said there are several precautions people should take during cold weather.

“The biggest thing is, first and foremost always check on your neighbor,” McGill said. “Make sure they’re OK, especially during bitter cold temperatures like we’re having.”

McGill pointed out insulation is beneficial during severely cold weather.

“Insulating your pipes will help keep the water from freezing, so make sure they’re insulated well,” McGill said. “Depending on the circumstances, you may want to leave the water running just a little bit to help keep it from freezing.”

McGill explained during severely cold weather, the number of structure fires tends to rise.

“Make sure your heating sources have been checked by a certified technician,” McGill said. “Make sure they’re in good shape. Also, make sure any chimneys are cleaned out.”

McGill added secondary heat sources can be a fire hazard.

“If you’re using some type of secondary heat source (such as a space heaters or kerosene heaters) make sure it’s away from anything that could potentially catch fire,” McGill said. “During these times, we see a spike in fires because of those secondary heat sources. Don’t put a heater too close to furniture, papers or anything flammable,”

McGill mentioned Christ’s Hands will be working with Harlan County Emergency Management during the winter months.

“Christ’s Hands is open during this time; they’ve been open since Dec. 1,” McGill said. “They’re open not only for people who are homeless, but if for some reason you’re having trouble with your heat, you can go there and warm up and stay the night if need be.”

McGill added when required to be outside in cold weather, dress appropriately.

“When going out, dress in layers,” McGill said. “Dressing in layers is one of the best things you can do. Also, have a kit in your car containing some extra food, a blanket, jumper cables and that sort of thing so you will be prepared in case something happens.”