Rockcastle Co. couple lost power but found community at warming shelter

About 45% of Jackson Energy customers in the county are still in the dark as of Thursday night.
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 9:51 PM EST
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ROCKCASTLE CO., Ky. (WKYT) -Thousands of Kentuckians are still living without power and water, many of them in Rockcastle County.

About 45% of Jackson Energy customers in the county are still in the dark as of Thursday night. A number of people have found shelter at Rockcastle County Middle School, including Michael and Sharon Kemper, who lost power early on Monday night.

“I heard something pop, no more TV, no more lights,” Michael Kemper said.

The Kempers found themselves stuck in their Brodhead home.

“We tried to warm up with blankets as much as possible, but that only lasts so long,” Sharon Kemper said.

It became a dangerous situation.

“A tree limb fell on top of the wires that goes to the house and just ripped the wires on the house to the ground,” Michael Kemper said.

They called 911 for help and were driven to the warming center.

“We’ve had a lot of the elderly in that has been so cold and hesitant coming in,” said Robyn Renner, the manager of Christian Appalachian Project’s Disaster Relief Program.

Michael Kemper said he couldn’t go to sleep the first night after leaving his home.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” his wife said. “This being our first time, it was unknown to us.”

What they found was community, homemade food from neighbors, socially distanced movie watch parties, and a place to lay their head.

“They have loved being able to vent and share and talk to somebody in person,” Renner said. She explained, at first, the family units would stay spread a part. With proper COVID-19 protocols in place, they were able to gather safely.

The warming center hosted around 30 people Tuesday night, and since then volunteers have been able to witness people hearing the good news that their power is back on and they’ll be able to go home.

“They’re excited to go back home, some of them have pets still at the house,” Renner said.

Though the center is clearing out, things are far from back to normal, even for the volunteers.

“Most of the people that’s here helping in the shelter don’t have power” Renner said. She and Carrie Ballinger, superintendent of Rockcastle County Schools are included in the group still in the dark.

Despite the circumstances, Renner said the people inside these walls are finding the silver lining in this snow storm.

“We don’t know when we’ll go back home, but we do know when we go back home the time will be right,” Sharon Kemper said.

Volunteers with the Christian Appalachian Project are working on coordinating chainsaw crews. Folks like the Kempers have already been promised help cutting up tree limbs.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, call Robyn Renner at 606-308-9234.

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