‘Just trying to keep our community going’: Lawrence County hopes to find relief from winter storm fallout

Ice and snow covered trees still dot the sides of roadways in Johnson County.
Ice and snow covered trees still dot the sides of roadways in Johnson County.(Buddy Forbes)
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:44 PM EST
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Lawrence County is still pushing through the snow and trees, hoping to find relief from the fallout of the winter storms the region has faced since last week.

County officials declared a state of emergency on February 11. Now, with 92% of the county off of the grid, communities like Blaine sit without electricity. For some, the loss of power has been an issue for more than one week.

But Kimber’s Country Market, located in Blaine, is still trying to provide for the community. The market is running on a generator to provide food to people and is offering a helping hand by using a hand pump device to pump gas for neighbors to use in their generators.

“We’re just trying to keep our community going,” said owner Kimber Skaggs. “That’s what a community is. We come together as one and we help everybody.”

Skaggs said her business is only one of many examples in the area where people are working together to make it through, showing the true power of community.

“If it wasn’t for the community coming together,” she said. “We’ve had men cutting trees out of way to get to people. We have had people here at the store helping us hand pump gas out of this tank.”

One of the other outreaches, Blaine Church of God, is just a few doors down from the market. The church opened its doors as a warming station to provide food and warmth to those in need, offering rides in emergency situations,

“It has really been a blessing to see this little community come together and help like they have,” said Margaret Castle. “Looking forward to the end of this. Yes, it’s been hard. But we’ve gotten through.”

Across from Kimber’s Country Market the county is providing free kerosene to those in need, as county officials say they are working to do whatever they can to alleviate some of the sufferings while efforts continue to clean up and restore the area. From providing kerosene and propane to performing multiple wellness checks each day, Deputy Judge-Executive Vince Doty said it is an ongoing effort.

He said there are still “tens of thousands of trees” down on roadways and powerlines in the area, but crews have been working nonstop to clean up and clear out the issues.

“Once we get some more manpower- that’s what it’s about right now is just manpower,” Doty said. “It’s a critical situation. But we’re trying our best to get everything out to the citizens of this county and protecting them and making sure that they are safe.”

He said volunteers like those working the warming stations and the people who are clearing trees with their own equipment are showcasing the town’s unity.

”It’s an ongoing situation. But, you know, people are pulling together. We’ve got wonderful citizens here that are helping their neighbors.,” he said. “And that’s what this is about: just helping each other and trying to get through this.”

He said it is all about manpower at this point, since the multiple days of winter weather hit the county hard.

There is currently no estimated timeframe for when electricity will be restored in the area, but emergency management officials hope to see things look up soon.

“They’re trying to get it on as quickly as possible,” said Emergency Management Director Chris Cox. “They’re working hard. Just as hard as us if not harder.”

He said crews are on-site from AEP, Elliot, and other outside contractors, working to push through the ice and snow to restore the county.

Though it has been difficult for the people of Lawrence County to lose their power, many have discovered that the true power is in their people.

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