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WATER, WATER
 EVERYWHERE

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Persistent rains raise flood concerns

By Phyllis McLaughlin

It’s been one of the wettest Aprils on record, with an average rainfall in Trimble County of just under 6 inches from April 20-26, according to data from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, CoCoRahs.org.

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As of Tuesday morning, flood waters from the Ohio River had covered portions of Coopers Bottom and Burkhardts Bottom roads west of Milton and portions of Wise’s Landing Road, according to Emergency Management Director Ronnie McCane. In downtown Milton, water was covering Spring Street and School Hollow Road, swamping around the Milton Christian Church and lapping at the parking lot of the Wesleyan Church on State Hwy. 36.

On Tuesday morning, McCane said the rising river waters had slowed, “and that’s a big help. ... I don’t think it’s going to get over [State Hwy. 36]. Then again, things change.”

Rain that had been forecast for Monday afternoon missed the area, but more rain fell Tuesday morning and weather forecasters were calling for heavy rains again today, Wednesday.
The National Weather Service on Tuesday estimates the river will crest at 55.5 at Markland Dam, 4.5 feet above flood stage, by noon Thursday.

In Carrollton and Prestonville, high water was forcing some to evacuate and led Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson to declare a state of emergency for Carroll County.

“Low lying areas experienced severe flash flooding due to the excessive rainfall and runoff from higher elevated areas,” Tomlinson said in the declaration. “The effects in Carroll County would be the destruction of crops as well as erosion of roadways, creek banks, ditch lines, damages to utilities (water, sewer, gas and electric) and supporting base for roadways/bridges. Water damage resulting from head waters as well as back waters have caused extensive damage to residences as well as businesses over a widespread area.”

Junior Welch built the Community Feed and Seed in Prestonville after the 1997 flood, raising it 4 feet above the level water reached that year. He also installed electrical service to the building above the level waters reached in the 1964 flood.

But the main entrance to the store was already blocked by the water Monday. So, for good measure, Welch began moving all of the inventory out of the store, which also includes his auction house.

With the Ohio River expected to rise another three or four feet by Wednesday, Welch said he wants to protect his $150,000 to $200,000 in merchandise that would not be covered by flood insurance.

Carroll County Flood Plain Manager Mitchell Perkins said Tuesday that several roads remain closed throughout Carroll County. These include: Blue Lick Road, Goose Creek Road, Notch Lick, Hampton Lane, Second Street in Carrollton and Old Gilgal/Sheehan Road and Old Carlisle Road.
Due to backwater flooding over the weekend, Hwy. 36 East at Sanders, Buffalo Creek Road, state Hwy. 467 at Buffalo Creek Road and Buffalo Creek Road below Staffords Ridge were closed for a time. But Perkins said they reopened Monday after Eagle Creek receded.

Tomlinson said they are also keeping a close eye on state Hwy. 55, just past the split with state Hwy. 389, and on state Hwy. 389 near the Lazaar farm. Water is close to the level of the roadway in both locations and any rise in levels could close those roads.

In Henry County, officials Tuesday were inspecting the dam at Lake Jericho on the Little Kentucky River.

On Monday, officials were concerned that the dam may be breached and evacuated residents in Sulphur, the town nearest the dam.

McCane said preliminary reports Tuesday indicated the dam was intact. Even if there is a breach, it isn’t likely to burst but leak slowly, he said. But he believes it’s always best to be prepared.

“I can’t blame them for evacuating Sulphur,” he said. “They have less time [than residents along the river in Trimble and Carroll counties] to get out.”

On Tuesday, Judge-Executive Randy Stevens had not declared a state of emergency in Trimble, but said he would continue to assess the situation Wednesday.

Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statewide declaration Tuesday.

Jeff Moore, editor of The News-Democrat, contributed to this report.