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Beau's Journey » 2009 » February » 05

Archive: February 5th, 2009

February 5, 2009: Historic Ice Storm Hits Western Kentucky

  We finally have internet.  It has been more than a week since Comcast Cable went down.  We are one of the fortunate ones.  We have electricity and heat.

  An ice storm of historic proportions hit West Kentucky on January 27th and 28th.  Freezing rain totals of 1-2" were reported over most of West Kentucky.  We were without power here for a number of days, cable and internet for seven days, and had significant damage to all of the trees in our yard.  We sustained some roof damage, lost all of my weather instruments, had two broken windows, lost the lights on the side of the house and carport, had all of the sidewalk lights destroyed by branches, and witnessed four wrecks in the front yard!

  We were fortunate, though, to see our power restored as quickly as we did.  Some areas are still without power at this time.  Some of our friends are being told that it will be four to six weeks before power is restored.  The President of the United States has declared the area a major disaster zone.

  More than 25 people were killed in Kentucky and dozens injured.  The storm is one of the worst natural disaster in the history of West Kentucky.

  The first few days and nights I kept a journal on my lap-top as the storm unfolded.


January 28, 2009:

  We had significant icing overnight.  Dione and Tommy are going to come to my house.  They have a large Oak Tree behind their house.  They are concerned it might fall on the house.  I have a lot of trees, as well.  I think we will be okay in my basement.  I am sure we won’t get much sleep.

Midnight – January 28, 2009

  Freezing  rain fell most of last night, all day today, and it continues this morning.  I turned a heater onto my weather instruments earlier today – I had received 1.55” of melted precipitation as of 4 or 5 PM last night.  Since then I am fairly certain we have received at least another ½”-1" liquid.

  We lost power and all communications other than my emergency management radios earlier this evening.  I have a hand held radio to communicate with the EOC.  We have no weather data, internet, cable or phones. The last forecast I sent to the EOC was a few hours ago – one final update stating what would happen in the coming hours.

  This was my last email to the EOC

Header: Last email – catastrophic damage

"This will be the last email

I am on emergency standby power.  We have entire trees falling now around my block.  We can see explosions in the distance – transformers.  The house here has been hit seven or eight times by large limbs.

I lost my tower cam and weather instruments.

We (my family and I) are now taking shelter in the basement.

Freezing rain will continue for the next 4-6 hours with additional accumulations.

I hope everyone is safe and prepared for the storm.

We will likely be without power for days or weeks in some counties.

This is the worst ice storm I have ever witnessed.

Night everyone and be safe.

Beau Dodson
Meteorological Specialist for Paducah/McCracken County Emergency Management Operations"

End email

 I had a few easternuswx posters send me messages before my cellphone went down.  Mostly telling me to hang in there and be careful.  It was nice knowing that we are all connected one way or another.  

  I think most of us on the weather forums have a bond – the love of weather.  We love extreme events for our own reasons.  We love big snowstorms and we love a nice thunderstorm.  What we don’t like to see is the damage and human toll that these weather events take.  It is like the ocean.  I tell people that don’t understand the love of weather the same thing I tell them about the ocean.  I LOVE the ocean but I hate the rip currents.  I love the ocean but I hate the undertow.  The ocean can be beautiful but it can also be dangerous.  Well, the same applies to weather.  The weather can be beautiful but it can also be dangerous.  It comes down to respect.  You have to respect mother nature.


12:30 AM

  We have moderate to heavy freezing rain at this time.  This is accumulating rapidly on all surfaces.  We already had about 1” of freezing rain at last measurement (around 8 PM or so).  We have more than that now.  Bright blue flashes fill the sky to the northwest – some orange flashes to our south.  Bright green flashes to the northeast.  Every so often we are seeing the whole sky light up – bluish in color.  We can also hear the loud humming noises of transformers.  Occasionally we hear explosions and loud pops.  I am assuming these are the transformers blowing. 

  Earlier this evening we heard a loud "boom" and looked to our north.  We could see a large plume of smoke rising on the horizon.  This continued for about 15-20 minutes.  The fire department sirens could be heard in Lone Oak.  We called in the noise and the smoke.  Not sure what was on fire.  I am pretty sure there have been a number of fires across our county over the last few hours.

  This is now the heaviest freezing rain that we have experienced since the event began.  The rapid accumulation is taking its toll on the trees.

  We are now hearing near constant tree limb and tree breakage.  Loud crashing noises fill the air.  It almost sounds like a waterfall  when all the branches fall and hit other branches.  We have heard several large branches or trees hit the neighbors houses.  You can hear the cracking and popping of branches – then the noise of ice falling – hitting branches and crashing to the ground.  The ice covered branches hitting the ground sounds like glass breaking.

  We are occasionally going to the garage, on the north side of the house.  We have the garage door open so we can look out to the north.  We can not see much but we can hear the noise of crashing trees.  Tommy (my brother in law), Joey and myself are occasionally joined by Dione (my sister) and Mariah (my niece).  There is only a small “escape” route back into the house because we have brought boxes from storage and the garage is now full (we are in the process of building in Massac County and I am trying to go through all of our belongings).  So, when we hear cracking noises above us we all run to the back of the garage.  We know that eventually the large tree above us might fall.  We don’t want to be hit by branches.  Several large branches and part of the tree top have already crashed to the ground and struck part of the garage roof and side of the garage.  The branches have broken the security lights.  There is a scattering of glass on the ground in front of us.

  We hear dull thuds every so often.  We believe these are the sounds of our neighbors houses being hit by large branches.  Our neighbors to the north (right in front of us) must have significant damage.

  Over the last 12 hours we have heard dozens of loud branches snapping and falling to the ground.

  We have heard a number of loud thumps on our own roof.  We have now been hit seven or eight times.  The house shakes from time to time.  We have one window broken, the weather instruments are broken, the tower cam is down, we have gutters damaged, the lights have been hit on the north wall of the house – knocked to the ground and are broken.  There appears to be several dents in the roof.  We are probably going to have to replace this roof.   The fence that we fence our puppy in with has been smashed and destroyed.  The fence surrounding our property on the neighbors side to our southwest has been hit hard in a few spots.  It has broken the wooden planks.

  There was a pink glow to the sky to our north/northeast a few hours ago.  That has been replaced with darkness now.  I assume all of the lights are out in our community.  Just a terrible disaster for everyone.

1 AM:

  I have to admit that it is scary outside.  We are very concerned about trees falling on the roof.  We are all in the basement.  We have occasionally gone upstairs but quickly return to the basement.  We have heard the noise of branches falling onto the roof top several times this evening. 

  We have lost all contact with family members in this county and Graves County.  Hopefully they are all taking shelter or at least in a safe place.

My sister and brother in law – in the basement.


  The neighbors across the street, to the east, have a bright spot light.  They are shining the light up into the trees.  We can see the branches glisten from the light.  It looks like some sort of crystal chandelier that you would see in the foyer of a large expensive hotel.   

  Their light is big enough that it actually illuminates a large portion of the tree tops above us.  They look beautiful but are extremely heavy with ice accumulation.  The large limbs droop towards the ground.  It appears many of these branches will continue to fall in the coming hours.  We can also see the outline of trees down Charlotte Ann Drive.  They are hanging very low to the ground or touching the ground.

  We are fairly certain the neighbors to my east have been hit by several trees.  We can tell by the sound of the wood hitting the rooftops.

  We shouted out to them after the last big hit.  I asked them if they were okay.  No response so I shouted louder.  Everything was dark.  Finally I saw a light moving around and a couple of flashlights appeared.  It looks like the neighbors are okay.  We breathe a sigh of relief.  We know that she has some kids over there.  Don’t want to see them get hurt by falling branches.

  The amount of noise outside is unbelievable.  I am taking video.  It will take some time to get the video loaded.  You can see darkness and then hear the breaking of trees and branches.  You can also occasionally see bright flashes in the sky – transformers blowing up.

  Part of my family has come over to stay at my house.  My sister Dione, my brother in law Tommy, and my niece Mariah. We are sleeping or trying to sleep in the basement.  Nobody can sleep, however.  It is pretty scary.  We are concerned that there are several trees that are going to hit our house.  They are leaning and many have already had a large number of branches fall from them.

  We picked Mariah up earlier this afternoon after they were worried they would lose their big Oak Tree behind their house.  So we decided to bring her to my house.  At least we have a basement.  Tommy and Dione eventually arrived.  So, now we are all here watching the event unfold.  Mainly from the basement.  We occasionally come upstairs to find some food or more batteries for the flashlights.  More often than not though we are in the basement.  

  Not sure what happens next.  The City of Paducah is under a curfew.  Nobody is allowed on the streets.  Our cell phones went out earlier tonight.  We can no longer text anyone.  I had been texting a few eastern us weather posters.  I think they were reposting my texts.  Now I can’t even do that.  I sent one last message – eventually it will make its way out through the system. 

  I also have lost communications with the National Weather Service Office in Paducah.  I was online with them over the last few hours.  We lost that communication when my emergency power supplies ran out of power.

  There is catastrophic tree and power line damage throughout our region.  I have never witnessed anything like this.  I have been through several ice storms but nothing like this.  The temperature has been between 31 and 32 degrees most of the day and it is still that way tonight.  I had always wondered just how much freezing rain could accumulate at these temperatures.  I guess I have my answer.

  We are going to have some long days ahead.  There will be a lot of work and a lot of hardship for a large number of people in the State of Kentucky – surrounding states as well.

  We were able to listen to WPSD 6 earlier tonight.  They broadcast over the radio.  They are telling everyone that the damage is extensive and that everyone should stay indoors.  It sounds like some power poles are even breaking now.  Graves county to my south has major damage and Massac County to my north has major damage.

Not sure if we will ever get to sleep tonight.  We barely slept last night – I worked the event until 5:30 AM.  Now we are up again tonight.  I don’t feel tired, however.


3 AM

  We are still hearing the trees breaking.  Freezing rain continues.  I have laid down in my bed but my eyes stayed open.  Looking out the window.  There are two windows in the downstairs bedroom.   They face east.  We can see the neighbors flashing their spotlight up into the trees. 

   I close my eyes from time to time but I then hear the snap and pop of limbs and then the crashing noise they make when they hit the ground.  I am concerned that branches will come through the window. It doesn’t look like I will be getting much sleep tonight.

  The NWS in Paducah is not able to get data out, anymore.  Apparently their power is also out.  Not hearing anything on the weather radio.  I think some of their towers might be damaged.


4 AM

  It is Snowing. Finally the ice storm is over.  We fall asleep.


6:30 AM

  We hear a loud thump on the roof.  Another branch has hit the house.  Not sure how many that makes.  A bunch.  Hoping the damage is not severe.

  The sun is coming up.  Starting to see light outside the window.  I slept a couple of hours.  This on top of the previous days 2 hours of sleep and little sleep the night before.  I don’t feel tired though.  I think there is a lot of adrenal running through my body.  It is both exciting and scary.  I guess the weather enthusiasts in  me finds all of this exciting.  I am in awe at what mother nature can do.  On the other hand the amount of destruction we are going to wake up to is saddening.  I know that we are going to have days and weeks of cleanup and many people will have hardships that could go on for months.

  I want to get up – I don’t want to get up.  I know what is ahead of us.

  I go to the window.  My mouth drops in awe.  There are trees and branches all over the place.  The neighbors yard looks terrible.  Branches, tree tops, trees cover their yard.

  I go to the garage, where the door is open – I can see that snow has fallen on top of the ice.  I measure the ice and it appears we have somewhere close to 1.40-1.50” of freezing rain.  Around 2 inches of snow.  Not sure how much sleet fell. 

  It is going to be a long day.  We can still hear tree branches falling.


7 AM

  It looks like the roof survived.  There is damage to the roof, but I think we will be able to live here.  We could have water problems, though.  Once the snow and ice melt I believe it could come through the roof.  It is hard to tell just how much damage we have.  I can see what appears to be some dents in the roof.  The gutters are also damaged.  Looks like several thousand dollars in damage.

  Tommy, Joey, and I are going to try and get out and access the damage.  We are going to try and check on my dad and my apartments on the north side of the city.  We are going to see if Dione and Tommy’s house is ok.  They have a very large oak tree in their back yard and it hangs over the house.


Ice at my house in Lone Oak



Street in front of my house


Some of the limbs that hit our house during the night



Limbs hang over our house in Lone Oak


We have some generators to keep us going


Drivers are having a hard time with the street in front of our house



We tried clearing off part of the street


Mariah and Tommy


Wreck and wreck



This Hummer couldn’t even manage to stay on the road




It snowed on top of the ice – about 2 inches.


  We helped get a few cars off the medium on Jefferson Street.  People were trying to get around the downed limbs and trees.  One of the cars managed to cover us in mud from its spinning wheels!



Tommy – Mariah – Joey in the front yard



Mariah in the front yard




Jefferson Street – Paducah, KY


Jefferson Street – Paducah, KY





Mohawk Street in Paducah


12 PM

  There is catastrophic tree and power line damage in Paducah, Kentucky.  Every single yard has tree damage.  We have seen entire power poles that have snapped.  Numerous power poles are leaning over from the weight of the ice.  We have seen transformers and the top of some power poles broken.

  Some houses have entire trees on them.  Large trees.  Jefferson Street in Paducah looks terrible.  I actually did not know we were on Jefferson Street.  I did not recognize where we were at.  Jefferson Street, for those who do not know, is a famous street in Paducah.  It is a beautiful street with beautiful old trees that line it.  Unfortunately, there is major tree damage on this street.


Jefferson Street in Paducah


Jefferson Street in Paducah


Jefferson Street








Whitehaven in Paducah, Kentucky


  We saw Jim Cantore on Jefferson Street.  He is broadcasting information to NBC and The Weather Channel.   He has been here for a couple of days now.  I wonder how long he will remain here.

  Dione’s house is ok.  There are large branches that appear to be hanging by a thread – just above the house.  Hopefully they do not fall.


Tommy taking a photo of the tree in their backyard


  We checked on my dad.  He was not at his apartment.  My apartments have some damage – not sure how much.  The duplexes have tree branches and trees on them.  It appears that the roof has been damaged in several places.  Thousands of dollars in damage to our properties.  We just experienced major damage from Hurricane Ike – over $12,000.  Now again?  I guess that is what insurance is for.

  There is very little if any power in the city.  We did see one gas station open.  The cars were lined up in both directions.  Looked like more than 50 cars waiting for gas.  Some people were standing in the streets with gas jugs and filling their tanks.

  We are being told that there is no gas in Paducah (as of 1 PM).  We also heard that one person went 30-40 exits and could not find gas.  They were driving north through Tennessee. 

  We are being told to conserve water.  Many cities have water supply problems.  They are having to run generators in order to get the water pumping into the system.  This apparently isn’t working very well.

  Many roads have trees on them.  A lot of the roads that we traveled were down to one lane.  On Jefferson Street people were driving up and over the medium of the street (a 10-15 foot grass zone where dogwood trees have been planted).

  We still do not have phones – no cell phones.  We have heard on the radio that nobody in West Kentucky has cell phone service.  Apparently a large part of the ATT system is down.  500,000 people in Kentucky are without power.  Information is sketchy at this point on areas around us.  We don’t know much about Illinois.

  Shelters have been opened in Paducah.  Several warming centers.  These are mostly at churches.  Not sure how well they are being staffed or if the national American Red Cross is sending people into our area.  I am fairly certain they will.  Most of our local volunteers are not going to be able to get to the shelters or may not hear the information.  Many will be trying to take care of their own families.

  We went to Home Depot.  The lights were out but cars were in the parking lot.  We walked into the store and saw about one hundred people shopping for batteries, axes, saws, and other emergency supplies.  It appears a lot of people were not prepared for the storm.


Home Depot

  I have been listening to emergency management on the hand held radio.  They are transporting people to shelters.  Sounds like they have a few vehicles that are picking up people. It also sounds like they have their hands full with cleanup.  I am sure Jason, over in Marshall County, is staying busy.


Cleanup begins






  We are also hearing reports that crews from Georgia and Alabama are coming into the state to help us out with power issues.

  A State of Emergency has been issued for McCracken County.  Other counties around us, as well.


2 PM

  We spent a large part of the afternoon helping some people get out of the ditch in front of our house.  Three different cars had accidents.  The cars trying to get up the hill in front of our house.  Unfortunately, some did not make it.  We could still hear the breaking of limbs all around us while we were trying to get people out of the ditch.  Occasionally we would hear large tree tops falling.   You can usually tell how big the tree branches are by the sound.

  Dione and Tommy are going to come stay with me for awhile.  They have no heat or generators.


Dione is bringing some games


Mariah packing her bags





  We went back home and picked up Dione and Mariah, they wanted to get a couple of items from Kroger’s.  We heard they were open.  This was a mistake.

  We arrived at Kroger’s and there were hundreds of people standing in line.  No lights in the store.  We could not see anything on the shelves.  I had my camera with me and it had a flash on it.  I would occasionally flash it and make some light.  A manager eventually came over to me and told me to not take photographs that photographs were not allowed.  I found this strange.  All I could figure is that they were not supposed to be open (health department reasons?).






Kroger’s Paducah, KY





  There were two lines of people.  The line stretched all the way from the front of the store to the back of the store.  Two guys started to get into a fight.  Not sure what about.  Tommy was telling me that a lady told them to calm down and break it up.

  We decided that there was nothing we wanted at Kroger’s that would make us stand in line for 1-2 hours  So, we left.  We don’t really need any food.  I have a lot of emergency supplies.  I think Dione and Mariah don’t care for my choice of "emergency" foods!  Hey – at least we will survive.

  We then went to check on Dylan (my nephew).  Deena was concerned last night that nobody had heard from him.  As we entered Illinois the damage was incredible.  A tremendous amount of tree damage.  Every tree along the interstate appeared to be broken.  We saw power lines that were a few feet above the road.  We saw entire poles broken and transformers on the ground.


Interstate 24 – Paducah, KY


Metropolis, Illinois


Metropolis, Illinois


Metropolis, Illinois








  The damage in Illinois is tremendous.  This ice storm is worse than last years (and that was considered a big event).

  We still do not have cell phones or any other way to communicate.

  Tommy has on-star and was able to get one or two phone calls out through the satellite system.  We have not been able to get in touch with my mother, Deena, Tony, or my dad. 

  Jena (Dylan’s step-mom) told us that they did not know where Dylan was.  He went to a friends house.  I am sure he is okay.  Being the teenager that he is I guess he decided he didn’t need to check in with anyone.

  All of Metropolis and most of Massac County is without power.  We heard that some areas to the north of Massac County had snow up to the bumpers of cars.  Not sure where exactly. I bet Jhamps got a lot of snow!  I have not seen any reports, though.


Police had to be called out to local gas stations – there were a number of fights because people were
cutting in line.

  We are going back to my house.  It is cold outside.  Winds are not very strong, though.  So, that is good news.  I just can’t get over the amount of damage throughout our community.  This is very sad.  The trees will take years and years to recover.  Some will never recover.  It looks like a lawnmower ran over all of the trees in West Kentucky – one big tornado.  This is "the big one".’

  An historic event for the KPAH region.  No doubt about that.  People will talk about this storm for decades.


4 PM

  Getting the chain saw out and cutting up limbs.  We have large limbs on all sides of the house. 

  Dione is going to cook some food for us.  She is cooking spaghetti.  We have a gas stove.  We also have the generator running now.  It is big enough to run a couple of heaters.  We will at least stay warm.

  We have put all of our food outside the back door.  Not sure what else to do with it.  Need to keep it from thawing.  I guess it will last at least another day or two.  Temperatures should remain chilly.  We are not living in one big ice box!


Joey putting the food outside


  Tommy and I walked around the neighborhood, after we ate.  It is both beautiful and sad.  I guess you can have both of those at the same time.

  We checked on my old house on Ashcreek (my old house that I sold last year).  It appears that all the trees are broken in the back.  One or two trees are on top of the swimming pool cover.  This was the same cover that we had to replace after last years ice storm.  This time the damage is worse.

  We are listening to WPSD TV 6 on the radio.  They are giving emergency information out to listeners.  They have had wall to wall coverage all afternoon and it continues this evening.  It is all a blur, though.  To be honest I don’t remember much of what was being said.  I did hear some of the WPSD meteorologists.  They have been working all night and day.  I am sure Jennifer is tired.  I bet she slept at the station.

  It sounds like (we are hearing) that the National Guard is coming into Paducah.  They are sending vehicles to help transport people.  They are also going to help clean up the tree damage.  Police officers in Paducah are using chain saws to open up roads.

  Emergency management held a news conference earlier.  It sounds like they are doing everything in their power to get people into shelters.  They have been working since yesterday.  With temperatures dropping into the teens and single digits in the nights to come it is important that people take shelter.

  The federal government is being asked to help us out.  Curfew tonight for the city.  Everyone is supposed to be off the roads by 5 or 6 PM.

  There is another chance for snow on Sunday night or Monday.  I don’t have any data so I am not sure how real of a threat this is.

  I have tests next week – for school.  Not sure what I am going to do about this.  We are being told that it will be 5-7 days before power is restored.  They said several weeks for some people.  I am hoping we are more like 5 days.  It will probably be even longer before we have cable and/or internet.  I do have an air card, though.  Perhaps it will work?

  I wonder how everyone at the National Weather Service is doing.  I heard on the radio that emergency management was going to pick some of the employees up and bring them to work.  I think the National Guard helped bring them to work during the big winter storm back in the early 90s.


Tommy and I went for a walk around the block.  

5 PM

  It is getting dark now.  A tree just fell outside the window on the south side of the house.  Not surprised – it had been leaning way over.  Made a nice crashing noise.  I watched it fall as I was typing on my laptop and looking out the window.  We also had another tree that fell over – roots and all. 


Bringing in some supplies for the night


We had to buy more gas cans

  This is probably a once in a lifetime event.



6 PM

  It is getting colder now.  I can tell the house is cooling down.  My feet are cold.  I guess we need to get more heat going.  The small heaters are blowing hot air out – not keeping up with the falling temperatures.  I think the temperatures must be well into the lower 20s now?  We might get down into the teens tonight.

  At least tonight we won’t have to listen to the sound of crashing trees.

  We still have a few large trees that are leaning near the house.  Hopefully they won’t break.  We are going to have to sleep in the basement again, though. 

  I am not sure what happens tomorrow.  I hear that the National Red Cross is sending people into our area.  This is good news and probably means that we will be in good hands.  We have taken care of our immediate family – gotten them shelter and we have worked together to get the generator running, cooking, keep the heat going, take care of the dogs, starting to clean up the yard – made a path so we could get out the door.  This is just the beginning, though.  Long days ahead. 

  I am going to try and check in with the Red Cross tomorrow.  I still need to track down my dad and my family in Mayfield.

  The Red Cross has opened a bunch of shelters in the community.  I need to check in with them.  Not sure what their needs are.

  We are worried about Deena and Tony, my mother Judy, and my dad Dean.  Lori should be fine because she has a heater/gas fire stove.  We have also not been able to find Dylan.  Worried about all the guys out working the event.  Jason Darnall is working very hard to clean roads.   Sue Henry – don’t know where she is.   Wondering how John Logeman, Julie Kohn, Gail, Tracie Deaton, Caesar, and many others are handling this storm.  I sent them all emails starting last Wednesday with an alert concerning this winter storm.  I sure hope they prepared for it.

  We will probably hold out one more day before trying to find the rest of my family down in Mayfield.  They are asking us not to travel in Mayfield because the damage is so bad.  100% of Mayfield is without power.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

  Well, today started early.  At least we did not wake to the sound of crashing trees and branches! 

  The mission today was to try and go by the Red Cross shelter and check on them, cut the branches out of the fence, check on all of our tenants at Glen Street and Glen Argo, and check on Joey’s parents.

  I heated some water on the stove this morning so that I could at least wash my hair and face.  We have a gas stove here in the house.  That made it easy to heat water.

  Our generator is still going.  We ran out of gas this morning.  So, Joey and I had to go find some gas.

  We headed out during the morning hours.  Listening to WPSD we learned that 1 million people+ were without power in the State of Kentucky.  This is one of the biggest power failures ever for this state.  There are a few gas stations that are rationing gas.  We noticed long lines at the stations that were open.

  Banks are closed – everything is closed.

  Most of Lone Oak remains without power.  The area around Kentucky Oaks Mall has some power.  They are slowly getting everyone back onto the grid.  I figure we might get power on Friday or Saturday.  Hopefully.  Not sure how long it will be until we have internet again.  Probably awhile.

  I have school and so does Joey.  We have to get back online.  I guess I will give it until Sunday or Monday.  If we don’t have internet by the weekend we will have to go to another city near the region.  That is the only way I can do my homework and tests.

  We cut up branches most of the morning.  I am glad that I bought a chain saw last year.  I am also glad that we put together a large emergency kit over the last few years.  A little bit of everything has come in handy.

  We can hear a lot of sirens in the distance, from time to time.  Hard to know what all is going on.  I know there have been a number of fires.  I would imagine that there will be more fires when the power comes back on – surges and so on.


  I talked with Kenneth Brown at the American Red Cross Shelter by Oak Grove Cemetery.  They were holding up just fine.  It looked like they had about sixty people in the shelter.  One small generator with one small heater.  Just enough to keep the shelter barely warm.  They had plenty of food.  Everyone seemed like they were in a good mood and getting along just fine.

  There are now six shelters open in Paducah.  Not sure how full they are.  There are dozens of other shelters open around our region.  Thousands of people are seeking refuge in the warming centers.


Red Cross Shelter – Paducah, KY


Red Cross Shelter



Red Cross Shelter – Paducah, KY



  We drove to the courthouse in Paducah.  The large trees there are devastated.  Every tree has damage.  The City Hall has a ton of tree damage as well.  Many large oak trees are simply stripped of their branches or severely damaged to the point where they may have to be cut down. 


Downtown Paducah – Courthouse


City Hall – Paducah


Downtown Paducah – Arts District






City Hall – Paducah, Kentucky


Vietnam Memorial – Downtown Paducah


Courthouse – Paducah, Kentucky


Downtown Paducah – Park in front of the library



Downtown Paducah, Kentucky


Downtown Paducah, Kentucky



The park across from the library in Paducah




  This disaster certainly sets the bar a bit higher for any disaster in the future.  This will be a major lesson for many people who failed to have emergency kits, emergency supplies, and so on.  People have been told here for years that they need to prepare for a major disaster.

  We learned late this morning that another winter storm may be approaching our area by Sunday night and Monday.  Not sure how bad it will be.  Could be several inches of snow.

  We still did not have phone service today.  ATT is completely down.  Not sure how much longer it will be.  Hopefully the next few days we will be able to start communicating with people again.  We have heard that Verizon stayed up through the entire storm.

  We have not heard from my sisters family.  We have not been able to track my dad down either.  We also have not been able to contact my mother.   We are going to drive down there tomorrow morning.  We hard that Mayfield is devastated.  They could be without power for days or weeks.  We also heard that Carlisle County may be without power for thirty days.  It sounds really bad in neighboring counties.

  We saw dozens of electric company trucks rolling down the interstate.  Many of these were carrying power poles.  Some of the trucks were from other states – Alabama and Mississippi.  It looksl like help is arriving.

  We drove to Dexter, Kentucky during the afternoon.  Joey’s parents live down there.  They did not have water or electricity.  We brought them a bunch of water.  Joey’s dad and grandfather fixed the chainsaw for us.  The chain had come loose. 


Taking water to Joey’s family


Carrying gas and supplies


  On the way to Dexter we saw an area about 5 miles wide that seemed to have a little bit more ice than anywhere else.  We saw a lot of power poles that were broken completely off.  We also saw some of the main power lines (the huge ones) that had fallen.

  We saw one gas station open near Benton, Kentucky.  The cars were lined up for several blocks.  They were only accepting cash and you were only allowed to get 10 gallons of gas.

  We did not get gas at that location.


Long lines at the gas stations


  When we returned home it was almost 4 PM.  We gathered together six 5 gallon gas jugs.  That would give us enough gas to last a few more days.  We went to the SuperValue Grocery Store gas station a few miles down the road from my house.  We noticed that they had the pumps going.  So we got in line.  The cars were taking about 20 minutes each to get gas.  We had a number of cars in front of us.  Mariah and Joey got out of the car and stood in line with their gas jugs.  It took them one hour to get the gas.  The credit card machines were very slow.  I guess this is because of the phone lines being down.


We waited two hours to get gas


  My car battery died while I was in line.  I let it set for 10 minutes and the car managed to start.  Once I got up to the gas pump the manager came by and said they were shutting all the pumps down.  I had been waiting about 15 minutes after a put my credit card into the machine.  The gas pump finally said approved and it started pumping gas.  I managed to fill my tank up.  The lady behind me though was told she could not get gas that he was shutting it down.  She begged them to let her get gas.  Apparently she was from Tennessee and she was heading to Carbondale to see her family (she works in Tennessee and travels home once a week).  I told Joey to pull the SUV forward and I would give her gas off our credit card.  She was on empty.  She pulled forward and we managed to fill  her tank up halfway before the manager shut everything down.  She was extremely thankful.  She had not even heard that we had a storm.  

  It took us about 2 hours to get gasoline!

  Once we returned home Tommy had made it back from his work.  He works at U.S. Foods and they are responsible for getting food to the hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, and other locations.  Tommy and Dione wanted to go try and get some hot food.  So we ended up going by the mall and there were a couple of restaurants open.  We ended up at Applebees.  They locked the doors after we got there – it was cash only.

  We counted our money and we had $80.  That was enough for all of us to eat!  So, we were thankful to finally get a hot meal.  The last time we had “real” food was Sunday.  So, about four or five days.  Course we have been in “storm mode” since last Wednesday or Thursday when we started tracking and forecasting this storm for emergency management.

  We need to go check on my mother and Deena and Tony’s family.  We are heading there early in the morning.  We bought some groceries tonight (lot of snacks for the kids) for them.   We are also going to try and get them some cash tomorrow.  Not sure we can find cash, though.  We are being told that the banks are out of cash or are limiting how much they allow you to take out of the bank.  So, not sure what we can get Tony.  I know they need cash because we heard on the radio that there is one grocery store open in Mayfield, but it is cash only.

  We are also going to try and get them some gasoline.  They need kerosene, but we don’t know where to find that.  The news said there is not any available in our area.

  Emergency management is doing a great job along with the City of Paducah and County.  They are all working very hard to get this city up and running again.

  The governor was in Paducah this morning.  He has informed us that President Obama has declared our area a federal disaster zone.  This is going to help get us some federal aide.  Good news.

  I am wondering how Jason and his family are doing down in Benton, Kentucky.  I am sure Jason is staying busy.  He works with emergency management.

  We have still not heard from Dylan.  I guess he is okay.  We heard that Metropolis, Illinois is having a hard time getting help from outside of the area (we have heard the same about some West KY counties).  The governor of Illinois has been thrown out of office.  There is nobody, apparently, to declare them a disaster area.  The local officials of Metropolis were on the news begging for help.  So far nobody has come to assist them.  They have no gasoline, no power, no water, no facilities.  It sounds really bad across the river.

  I am worn out at this point.  We are watching WPSD on a battery run radio and tv.   


Lourde’s Hospital – Paducah, KY



Lone Oak, Kentucky



Friday, January 30, 2009:

  We headed down to Mayfield today to check on the rest of my family.  Looks like everyone is okay.  We brought them a generator and some food.  My sister and my nephew and nieces are coming back with us – also my mom.  Looks like I am going to have a house full of people.


We saw this wreck on the way to Mayfield


  Tony took the generator and used it to help a gas station up and running.  They are using the generator to get the pumps going.  There is little or no gas in the area.  At the stations that do have gasoline they are rationing it – you can get 10 gallons at some stations.  Banks are still closed.  A few banks are opening with generators being used for power.  The are limiting the amount of cash being distributed.


Tony taking one of our generators to use for getting a gas station up and running in Mayfield


  We saw a lot of damage on the way down to Mayfield and in the City of Mayfield.  A large number of power poles are broken or cracked.  Power lines are down.  Major damage to trees.  It looks like a large tornado has hit the entire region.  This reminds me of Massac County where the twister moved through in May of 2003.  It will take decades for the trees here to recover from this event.


Courthouse – Mayfield, Kentucky


Cars lined up for gas in Mayfield, KY


A shelter was set up at the Graves County High School


Mayfield – Courthouse


Courthouse – Mayfield, Kentucky


Mayfield, Kentucky


Mayfield, Kentucky


Mayfield, Kentucky


Mayfield, Kentucky


Mayfield, Kentucky


Courthouse – Mayfield, KY


Courthouse – Mayfield, Kentucky

Car smashed on one of our properties in Mayfield, Kentucky


The road back to Tony and Deena’s house



Tony’s dad had his truck hit by branches and wires


We filled the car up with clothes and supplies and headed back to Paducah.

Tyler and the other kids are staying at my house – we have heat


  We stopped by and checked on Sue Henry (over by the mall in Paducah) and Caesar’s residence (in Lone Oak), as well.  It looked like everyone was doing okay.  Sue had power and internet.  No cable.  Caesar did not have power or phone service.  No cable there either.  Caesar was in good company, though, as his friend Geri was there and his sister, as well.  We brought them some propane for their Coleman Stove.  I think they had enough, but I had some extra in my garage taking up space.


Caesar’s house – Lone Oak, Kentucky


  Our power is still off.  No cable or internet – cell phones are still down. 


We have been cleaning up the yard – that would be me 🙂



Cleaning up the backyard




  I took some photographs of the NWS in Paducah, Kentucky.  Lot of ice!







NWS Radar – Paducah, KY






Saturday, January 31, 2009:

  Most of today was spent cutting up tree limbs for people.  Tommy has been working at U.S. Food and trying to get food delivered to all of the emergency shelters, jails, nursing homes, hospitals, and restaurants. 

  I spent two hours waiting in line to get kerosene for my brother in law in Mayfield.  While in line the people were not in the best mood.  Several people appeared to cut in line and there was a lot of shouting and yelling.  People were threatening to fight those who cut in line.


Long line to get Kerosine


Kerosine line – took me two hours to get 10 gallons.


Tony helping in Mayfield, Kentucky


  Sad news – Caesar’s sister has passed away.  This comes as a shock as we just saw her yesterday.  I hate to hear this news.  Caesar has been a close friend since I first met him back in 2003.  We send out all of our thoughts and prayers to him and his family.


  It looks like the winter storm next week won’t develop.  More cold weather is on tap, though.  Something we don’t need.

  Temperatures today actually warmed a bit.  A lot of the ice is melting.


Sunday, February 1, 2009:

  We have power at my house.  It came back on yesterday, but went back off again.  We had to use the generator on and off to keep the house warm.  Hopefully the power will stay on.

  The news on television sounds bad for a lot of West Kentucky counties.  There is major damage to infrastructure – power lines/trees/water supplies.  It is going to take a long time to recover from this event.

  There are numerous shelters open in our region.  I have lost count as to just how many are open.  People are coming in from other states to volunteer.

  Tony and I drove up to the farm today.  The big oak tree had a lot of damage to the limbs on the north side.  We also had some power poles broken in our field and the field to the north of our property.  Not sure how long it will take to get the power back on.  We saw some coyote tracks in the snow.


The big Oak Tree on the farm


Power poles on the farm are broken


Round Knob, Illinois


Round Knob, Illinois


Round Knob, Illinois


Metropolis, Illinois – line repair


Metropolis, Illinois – Ice Storm Damage


Tony and I stopped by Lowe’s in Paducah and picked up another generator to share with some family members.


  I am going to try and help at the shelter this week.

  All of my family is living with me.  The only family members not here are my dad and Dylan. 


Monday, February 2nd-5th, 2009:

  We have spent the week clearing tree limbs from my sisters yard, my house, and neighbors.  My dad and nephew have been cleaning up some of our rental properties.  We have also hired some people to take down broken tree tops. 

  I helped out at the Red Cross shelter on Wednesday.  There were a number of volunteers from West Virginia.  It was really nice to see people from other states helping our area out. 

  I had to do my homework in the parking lot of the Drury Inn.  They had high speed internet.  So, I took my tests and turned in my quizzes for college.  I am glad I didn’t have to travel to another city to do all of this.


I did my homework and tests in the back of my car


  I had a few messages from David and Doug in Canada.  Doug said the images reminded him of Montreal, Quebec – they had a large ice storm back in the 1990s.  That storm caused major damage.  Some areas were without power for a month or longer.

  We now own four chain saws and four generators!  We have had to buy more equipment over the last week to help clean everything up.  I guess if we have another storm we will be more than prepared!  We also own about 70 gallons worth of gas jugs!

  Tony has been helping the National Guard in Mayfield.  They have been clearing trees and tree limbs from elderly residents yards.


Tony down in Mayfield helping the National Guard


The National Guard is in Paducah, as well



Emergency management has set up their mobile station at the Red Cross Shelter (by the airport
and NWS)

Red Cross Shelter – near the airport


  We finally gave up on trying to pull in a digital signal from the local stations.  Jason Darnall, who is helping me get everything set up for the new weather room at the farm, had me order the antenna below.  Hopefully this will pull in a better signal. 


Joey is helping to put the antenna together


  I had to mail my weather instruments off to be repaired.  The anemometer is busted, the thermometer has busted parts on it, the rain gauge is damaged, and the wires are broken.  Hopefully it won’t take long to get them back up and running.  The tower cam is also damaged – not sure if I can get it to work or not.  Not a big deal in light of what most people are going through.  We are among the fortunate ones.


Mailing off the weather instruments

  We are now preparing for a possible severe weather event next week.  The track of the low will be important as to what kind of weather we have.  We are also watching for strong winds on Saturday.