Crews with Madison County Fire Department, Richmond Fire Department, and Madison County EMA joined together Friday to help their southern neighbors in Jackson County.

Along with four additional fire departments, these departments responded to a call to clear fallen trees, power lines and check individual homes which had been without power for days.

This endeavor was executed as part of the Bluegrass Emergency Response Team (BERT), which is designed as protection for the region and for the commonwealth in hazmat, rescue, natural disaster response, radiological, and mass casualty incidents, according to their website.

Dustin Heiser, Madison County EMA Director and representative of BERT, said the team was created after 9/11 and was comprised of 11 county agencies to help respond to emergencies.

Friday, about 40 first responders from five agencies arrived within the Daniel Boone National Forest to do just that.

"What they are working to do is to remove trees to allow access for power and utility crews to get in there so they can start restoring that power," Heiser said.

After winter weather rocked the commonwealth, Eastern Kentuckians were hit especially hard. Throughout Jackson County, one can see downed trees and limbs on trailers, power lines strewn across roadways, and cars wrecked in ditches on the side of the street.

With up to 75% without power at the worst point of the storm, Jackson County EMA Director, Jamie Strong, put in a request to the BERT team and was accepted.

He stated the group's job on Friday was to get to several small backroads which had not been checked.

"There are no phone lines, no cell service for people to call out, so these crews are working to check the smaller roads and make contact with everyone in the home to see if they need food if they need water, if they need heat," Strong said.

He shared the fallen trees, coupled with the snow and ice, made it impossible for some people in the county to leave their homes.

Right now, nearly 25% of Jackson County is without power, Strong reported.

"It's better than it's been the past couple of days, but power crews haven't gotten back there yet, and that is our big concern," he said. "We have people going three days without power. But we are lucky in Jackson county a lot of people are self-sufficient, a lot of people have wood heat, they have water wells and things like that."

Before the BERT response was activated, Strong said he had sheriff's deputies, Kentucky State Police, and other first responders to help check on the residents.

"Everyone has been pushed to their limits, and everyone is tired," Strong said. "It is good to have a fresh crew here because they can do more than we can."

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