Strong thunderstorms Sunday night left thousands of Franklin County residents without power – and some homes were still dark this morning.
Blue Grass Energy reported 1,439 customers without power in Franklin County this morning, most of them in the western and southern parts of the county.
The Nicholasville-based energy company said a total of 2,576 customers in Central Kentucky were affected by outages at some point.
Glenn Waldrop, spokesman for the Frankfort Plant Board, said between 2,000 and 3,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm around 9 p.m.
Outages were scattered through the area, Waldrop said, but some of the hardest hit areas were around Devils Hollow, Benson Valley, Pea Ridge, downtown, South Frankfort and Meadowview Drive.
Crews restored power to most residents by midnight, Waldrop said, though there were still a few isolated outages.
Cable and telecom customers in the areas of Green Wilson Road, Huntington Woods and Bald Knob were without service this morning.
Waldrop said those residents receive electric service from Blue Grass Energy, and because their power was out longer, plant board crews are getting a later start at restoring their telecom services.
The plant board also responded to a cable and telecom outage in the Silverlake and Ravencrest areas this morning.
Cliff Feltham, spokesman for Kentucky Utilities, said between 750 and 1,000 customers were without power Sunday night, but that number was down to 71 this morning.
Inoperable traffic lights were the biggest challenge for road crews and law enforcement, officials said this morning.
Deron Rambo, director of the Frankfort/Franklin County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said emergency crews were out last night and into early this morning responding to calls of downed trees and power lines.
“At one point there were probably about 10 (roads) blocked,” Rambo said. “I didn’t leave the office until a little after 3 this morning.”
Sarah Leathers was sitting in her home at 265 Cardwell Lane at the height of the storm when “all of a sudden, there was a big thud.”
“We were sitting there watching television … I looked and I told my daughter, ‘A tree has fallen on the house,’” Leathers said. “It scared us to death.”
Randy Thompson, director of the county road department, said road crews spent much of the night clearing a section of Bridgeport Road after a large oak tree fell around midnight. The road reopened around 4 a.m., and crews are out today making sure everything else is clear.
“We had all of our crews running down all the roads this morning,” Thompson said. “(Some) had one lane blocked … we’re trying to run the county this morning to get all of it.”
City Public Works Director Jeff Hackbart said crews also responded to a downed tree on Sunset Drive.
The city will pick up fallen limbs on residents’ regular trash pickup day. Anything over 6 feet long should be cut into shorter pieces, Hackbart said.
There will be no change to the city’s trash and recycling pickup on July 4. The city asks those who have Wednesday as their trash collection day to place their garbage and recycling carts at the curb by 7 a.m.
Chief Gary Watts of the Franklin County Fire Department said county emergency crews also had a long night.
“We would get a call for a tree down on St. John’s Road, but then we’d end up driving up the road half a mile and there’d be another tree down,” Watts said. “(Currently) nothing’s blocked. We had everything open just within a matter of a few hours.”
Watts said crews also responded to several wrecks, but nothing “life threatening.” The department also received several calls about power lines on homes or blown transformers, but nothing that turned into an actual fire, he said. There were also no reports of injuries from any of the downed trees or power lines.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Watts said. “The hotter it is, the tougher they are … it was a pretty nasty little thunderstorm.”
At the height of the storm between 9 and 10 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service measured about 400 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in Franklin County, meteorologist Ryan Sharp said.
“That’s a lot of strikes in an hour,” Sharp said. “The heat that we had (Sunday), there was a ton of energy in the atmosphere and it was wanting to get out.”
Sharp said the severe thunderstorm produced winds between 50-60 mph and said the NWS received a report a 53 mph wind gust in Frankfort around 9:30 p.m.
The storm did bring some relief to the city and county’s abnormally dry conditions, but officials say the heat isn’t over. Weather records show 0.35 inches of rain fell Sunday.
“The clouds that stuck around after the rain means we’ll have a little bit of a late start to the heat,” Sharp said. “But it’s still going to be in the 90s today … we’re not out of this yet.”
Statewide, more than 5,000 customers of Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric are still without power.
Brian Phillips, a spokesman for both utilities, said Monday that the bulk of the outages are between Louisville and Lexington.
The storm lashed the region with high winds and heavy rain Sunday night.
Phillips says about 1,300 customers in Woodford County are without electricity, along with about 1,000 customers in Fayette County. He says more than 800 LG&E customers in Jefferson and Oldham counties still have no electricity.
He says most of the outages should be restored by mid-day today.
The peak number of outages was about 27,000 KU or LG&E customers Sunday night.
Across the nation, Monday morning brought a grim challenge as many embarked on a difficult commute over roads with darkened stoplights and likely mass-transit delays.
As of late Sunday, nearly 2.7 million people remained without power in several states from Virginia to New Jersey and as far west as Ohio.
That left many to contend with stifling homes and spoiled food as temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees, and utility officials said the power will likely be out for several more days. Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for at least 17 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars.
The damage was mostly blamed on straight-line winds, which are strong gusts pushed ahead of fast-moving thunderstorms like a wall of wind.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.