Some residents without electric for days
Power mostly restored in area

Wanda English Burnett - Editor

What would it be like to live without electricity?

Some residents in Ripley and surrounding counties know the answer to that if only on a limited basis. After a powerful ice storm swept through the area last Tuesday into the morning hours of Wednesday, (February 13 and 14) many residents were left without power as the weight of the ice began to snap trees causing them to fall onto power lines.

Power companies - Southeastern Indiana REMC, Decatur County REMC, and Duke Energy, immediately had crews responding. The situation was overwhelming, however, as they would make headway and then have to go back due to more trees falling.

Commissioner Robert Reiners noted that the county highway garage employees worked in cooperation with electric companies helping to clear tree limbs and trees. Even with outside resources being called in, it was impossible to restore power to everyone quickly. “This was definitely the worst ice storm I’ve ever seen here,” noted Reiners.

Most people who were interviewed agreed that we just don’t realize how dependent we are on electrical current until it is gone.

“There is only so much time that you can play hand held electronic games, board games and color in coloring books,” laughed Amy Copeland of Versailles. Copeland and husband, Sam, were out of power almost 24 hours last week. She noted that they were literally “cutting their way home” on Tuesday, February 13, when they saw a “big blue flashing light” at their home. A tree had fallen taking out their transformer. Sam and his father, Kenneth, had been assisting the state police by cutting tree limbs and trees from roadways that day.

The Copeland’s five-year-old daughter Cierra was hoping she would be able to go to her preschool on Friday - Little Blessings - because they were having a Valentine party and dance. However, that would not happen, as schools in the area closed for the fourth time last week.

“We’re better off than some,” noted Copeland, who said her parents, Rosie and Mark Covington, live in Switzerland County and didn’t have electric or water for several days.

The Mike Brandes family were without power several days last week and made some innovative decisions that allowed them to stay in their home on 575 E. off 129.

Brandes said his sons, Michael, 15, and Cody, 9, were keeping themselves busy by enjoying some outdoor sports such as sledding and ice fishing. They were getting along fine without television, according to their father.

When the temperature in the Brandes home dipped to 48 degrees, Brandes said he knew it was time to act. Kerosene heaters were obtained, which kept the house relatively warm and the water pipes from freezing. After realizing it might be even longer than anticipated for the electric to be turned back on, Brandes obtained a generator to keep his refrigerator and freezer running.

Residents out on South Michigan Road near Holton, noted they used “lots of blankets to keep warm” throughout their 48 hour ordeal with no electric. “I’ve been wearing layers of clothes,” noted Bridget Bush. She also said they had been letting the water drip to keep the pipes from freezing in the total electric home she and husband, J.R. rent.

Elaine and Russell Mortara, who live on South County Road 400 E. Dillsboro, (in the vicinity behind Browning’s Campground), were without power for days last week. “We stayed one night - Tuesday, and then went to our daughters’ home in Bright,” noted Mrs. Mortara. She said they couldn’t cook and had no phone service. “I don’t know when we’ll have electricity again,” she noted on Thursday afternoon. She had talked with representatives from Southeastern Indiana REMC, who told her it would probably be Friday.

While people really want their electricity turned on and quickly, all were certain the electric companies were doing everything in their power (no pun intended) to accommodate them.
“They’ve really got their hands full,” Mortara agreed, saying she felt they were doing the best possible job with the weather situation the way it was.

Barry Lauber of Southeastern Indiana REMC told the press that about 70 people were without power Sunday night, and he hoped they would be on sometime yet that night or Monday. That was mostly in the Milan, Moores Hill and Dillsboro area. At the peak of the storm last Wednesday it was reported there were more than 11,600 REMC customers without power. By Sunday morning only 400 to 500 didn’t have power and by Sunday evening that number had decreased even more.

The snowfall on Saturday was a set-back to power crews as they once again had to navigate the big trucks through the snow covered roads. Lauber stressed that if you are still without power to call the REMC at 689-4111 or 1-800-737-4111. The lines aren’t nearly as busy as they initially were and you should be able to get through quickly.he Gilpin home off Tanglewood Road in Versailles were damaged from the heavy ice.

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