Winds from Ike batter Kentuckiana

Photo courtesy: Mike Dever, WAVE 3 News
Photo courtesy: Mike Dever, WAVE 3 News
Tree down on Burnt Oaks Court, Bluegrass Fields subdivision (Photo courtesy: Micky Johnson)
Tree down on Burnt Oaks Court, Bluegrass Fields subdivision (Photo courtesy: Micky Johnson)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hurricane Ike may have been downgraded to a tropical storm, but its fury was felt in a big way Sunday in Kentuckiana. Trees and power lines were toppled as 70 mph winds whipped through the area, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power and prompting schools on both sides of the river to cancel classes.

At a press conference late Sunday afternoon, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said downed trees and power lines have blocked about 133 roads. Power was also knocked out to at least 100 schools, so JCPS officials decided to cancel classes on Monday. Catcholic schools will also be closed, as well as the DePaul School.

Schools in Greater Clark County were also canceled.

Mayor Abramson said water in the area should be safe to drink, and no boil water advisories have been issued.

Chris Herman with LG&E says this is the worst damage he has seen in his 30 years as an LG&E employee - with over 60 percent of LG&E customers without power. He warned residents that power could be out for days.

Herman said that's three times the number of people who lost power in Louisville during the 1974 tornado.

"For people who have to make personal decisions or business decisions, you should plan on an extended period of time without electricity," Herman said. "I think we're looking at something measured in well over a week, but it's premature speculation to say now until we get the assessments complete."

Louisville Metro Police closed the Watterson Expressway in both directions Sunday afternoon at Bardstown Road due to a traffic accident and debris in the roadway. Police are advising motorists to remain off the roads to allow emergency vehicles access to necessary locations.

Other residents, unable to contact emergency officials, have blocked off streets on their own. Additionally, numerous traffic lights are still out, making travel dangerous.

Across the Commonwealth, state officials say seven western Kentucky counties in western Kentucky have declared states of emergency due to the high winds. States of emergency were also declared in the southern Indiana counties of Floyd and Jefferson.

Downed trees and power lines in the region have closed parts of several state roadways.

Kentucky State Police at Campbellsburg tell WAVE 3 that two people were hurt at the Trimble County Apple Festival in Bedford when a large tree limb came down.