In May 6 Issue
At the close of the second day of the May, much of the Lake Cumberland region had nearly received a record monthly total of rainfall.
Rains started in the region Saturday morning and State Climatologist Stuart Foster said the rain totals by midnight Sunday were between eight and nearly 10 inches.
Record rainfalls for the month of May run between 10 and 15 inches, he added.
Foster said the rains were not a direct result of the El Nino warm-water current in the eastern Pacific.
“That pattern is weakening,” he explained. “The key to this event was a high pressure system in the east that blocked the front, and a strong jet stream that pumped moisture up from the gulf – resulting in a devastating event for this region.”
“Most of us will never see another event like this one,” Foster added, and explained the 100-year event concept.
He said that calling it a 100-year flood, does not mean it could not happen again next week, but statistically such an event would happen only once in 100 years. Like a coin toss, it is no more likely to come up tails the second toss than it is the first toss.
“If you won the lottery today, you are no more likely to win or lose the next day,” Foster concluded.
Whatever the likelihood of another event next week or next month, the event caused road damage and basement flooding in Russell County.
H.M. Bottom, the county's emergency services director, said there were four county roads and two state roads that were badly damaged by the storm.
He used the damage to Decatur Rd. as an example.
“The water went over the top of that bridge but it didn't damage the bridge itself,” Bottom said. “It did pick up the blacktop on the approach to the bridge. It just kind of pealed it up and carried it a little ways downstream.”
The water then eroded rock-fill in the road bed and made the bridge impassable.
Bottom said Blankenship Rd., Cabin Creek Rd., and Coffman Rd., were all damaged but he said all four roads were back in service Tuesday.
Bottom said he was completing damage estimates and documentation necessary for the county to apply for inclusion in Governor Steve Breshears' emergency declaration.
Once the application is processed, there will be a chance for private individuals, companies and non-profit groups to apply to Federal Emergency Management Agency for grants and loans to make repairs Bottom said.
The guidelines for aid indicate that only those without flood insurance are eligible for the aid. Bottom added that anyone who plans to apply, should document all evidence of damage.
He said photos of flooded basements, estimates or invoices for the repairs, and any other documentation possible, needs to be collected and maintained.
The applications for Individual Assistance from FEMA will be accepted after the county's application for disaster status has been completed.
Such an event was held in Adair County all-day Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning Bottom was head reading an emergency declaration from the judge-executive's office, but nothing official had been disbursed to the Times Journal.
Bottom said there were a great many homes with flooded basements in the county, and his statement was backed up by a local carpet company salesman.
Stanley Richardson, with Bennett's Carpets said they had taken at least 30 calls Monday for help.
“We've had even more today,” Richardson said Tuesday. “I'd say we've taken 60 calls today.”
He said carpet padding would need to come out if the basement is flooded, but it is possible that the carpet itself may be salvaged. It has to be dried out quickly though, and stain-prevention treatments must be re-applied.
In most cases, though floor coverings in basements across the county would simply have to be replaced.
“Ceramic tile is about the only thing that wouldn't be damaged by flooding like this,” Richardson said.
He warned about the health risks of mold, as well as mildew and the governor's office is warning of other dangers brought by flood waters.
The governor's office has sent out warnings regarding the contaminates that can be picked up by flood waters, how to make questionable water safe for drinking and how to rehabilitate a drinking well that had been overtopped by flood waters. For more on those subjects see other stories in this edition of the Times Journal.
Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday announced that flood waters from recent historic rains attributed to four deaths. Dozens of people have been rescued over the past three days.
“As we await the request for federal assistance, local and state officials are in the process of gathering damage assessments,” said Gov. Beshear. “Others are still involved in emergency response missions as we continue to provide assistance to those who have been affected by the aftermath of these terrible storms.”
The governor's statement added that areas of greatest concern have been river basins of the Kentucky, Green, Cumberland, Licking, Rolling Fork and Tennessee rivers.
In all, they noted that seventy counties and 22 cities had already declared States of Emergency. Those numbers are expected to continue to increase. Tuesday there were still 277 roads closed and 12 others listed as roads open, but with high water throughout the Commonwealth.
“Local, state and federal officials have been monitoring, and will continue to monitor all dams and levees across the Commonwealth to assure the safety of all our citizens,” said John W. Heltzel, director of KyEM. “At this time, appropriate, necessary actions have been taken to reduce levels through controlled releases.”
On the issue of dams, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Nashville District announced Monday that it was operating area dams along the Cumberland River and its tributaries to minimize flooding and reduce lake levels due to heavy rainfall throughout Tennessee and southern Kentucky.
They reported that they had to release water from on Tennessee dam before it was over-topped, but the situation was not as critical at Wolf Creek Dam.
Corps Information Officer Allison Jarrett said that two hydropower units at Wolf Creek Dam were brought online at midnight Monday and that as local runoff subsides other hydropower units will be brought on-line to start the process of pulling the lake level back down toward the 680 target elevation.
With record flooding in Nashville, after 13 inches fell in that area over the weekend the Corps reports they are working to minimize impact from up-stream dams, while the LRD Water Management Office has an ongoing flood control operation for the Ohio River. Jarrett explained that this means they are in control of operations at both Barkley Dam and Kentucky Dam. “We are working closely with LRD and TVA staff to develop operation plans,” she reported. “The current plan has Barkley releases reducing to average 265,000 cubic feet per second.”
Monday afternoon 12 roads in Adair county were still closed, while 11 were still closed in Casey and two were on the state rolls as closed in Russell County.
The state system reported pages of road closures due to either high water or damages caused by that high water.
The governor's office reported that some roads could remain closed for as long as two weeks, and his staff reminded Kentuckians that the public can access updated travel and weather information online at www.511.ky.gov or by dialing 511.