Nearly 600 people in Fayette County were still without power Thursday evening following a wide-spread ice storm that caused havoc throughout the county and surrounding area.
The freezing rain arrived between midnight and 7 a.m., immediately causing automobile slide-offs and accidents, according to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
“As soon as the roads started freezing over, we had all kinds of crashes,” he said. “There were several significant crashes with disabled vehicles and some minor injuries with air bags being deployed, and things of that nature. But I didn’t hear about any critical injuries that were suffered.”
As the sun came out and the morning progressed, the roads became significantly better. The issues with power outages unfortunately did not as the icy coating broke off tree limbs and dropped electric lines.
According to Dayton Power & Light (DP&L), there was a peak of 769 outages in Fayette County.
“What I saw consistently throughout the day were large branches that came down, which of course snag power lines and cause these issues,” Stanforth said. “There were power outages throughout the county all day long. DP&L has been working systematically to get everyone’s power restored.”
Fayette County Memorial Hospital was without power for a large portion of the day and had to operate with a generator. Washington High School and Middle School cancelled school for students because both schools were without power Thursday morning. Miami Trace Local Schools operated on a two-hour delay.
“A priority for power restoration was of course the hospital and the nursing homes as well,” said Stanforth. “We were still seeing significant power outages in the southern part of the county into the evening.”
At 5:30 p.m., DP&L posted that crews were out in full force with more than 800 people dedicated to outage restoration efforts. Mutual aid crews were scheduled to come from Indiana and Virginia to assist. In DP&L’s total service area, 75,000 customers were impacted, according to the website.
“The ice storm came through and dropped about a quarter inch of ice accumulation in the majority of the DP&L service territory and it weighed heavily on our trees,” said Mary Ann Cabel, director of corporate communications at DP&L. “So we have a lot of downed power lines that resulted from branches falling on trees with the weight. Since there are a lot of trees down we have to get those cleaned up and out of the way so our folks can get in there and restore the lines. This may be a multi-day event, considering how big the storm was.”
Cabel emphasized that safety is a priority. She said never go near downed power lines, keeps the kids and pets inside, and to watch for trees as the ice and water will continue to weigh them down. Additionally, she encouraged everyone to have a back-up safety plan and to check on elderly neighbors and family to make sure they are doing okay.
“If you have a generator make sure you follow instructions and make sure everything is in line with the owner’s manual,” Cabel said. “Proper ventilation is important, keep the refrigerator closed, if medicine needs to refrigerated have a back-up plan, or get ice to put in a cooler and keep it cold. There is more safety information available on our website and remember that safety is key.”
Martin Graham contributed to this article.