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Ohio River forecast to reach moderate flood stage

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By Jacob Blair

This story will be updated as needed.

Update No. 14 (10 a.m. Wednesday): KY 36 has reopened to traffic and KY 1848 (Corn Creek Road) has also reopened, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Both roads reopened overnight after being closed due to flooding.

Update No. 13 (9 p.m. Monday): The Ohio River crested earlier this morning. The Clifty Creek gauge had the river level at 457.3 feet, just above moderate flood stage.

The current forecast has the river above flood stage through Thursday, remaining in the "action stage" through Friday. We'll share road updates and other info from county and state officials as needed throughout the week.

Update No. 12 (5:15 p.m. Sunday): Trimble County Schools will be open Monday, according to district officials. Parents or guardians of students that need to be picked up or dropped off in a different location can leave a message at 502-255-5125. That number will be checked by the school's transporation department before the morning bus route.

"A few of the road closures in the county do not affect the school bus routes that we travel," school officials said in a statement. "For some other road closures, it will be necessary to take alternate routes to pick up our students, but this can be done without compromising the safety of our students."

The district said it spoke with Emergency Management, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Trimble County Road Department when making the decision.

"We will be prepared to provide school supplies, clothing and any other basic needs to our students that live near the river or in flood zones and have been displaced due to the flooding," the statement continued. "We will also excuse any absence for students that have had to evacuate to stay with family and friends. We will continue to communicate with state and local officials to monitor the road conditions in the county."

Students or families impacted by the flooding and in need of assistance can contact the district at 502-663-3254.

Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark said the shelter at the Morgan Community Center in Bedford was put into a standby state as the one occupant was moved to the American Red Cross' shelter at the National Guard Armory in Carrollton.

Update No. 11 (1:30 p.m. Sunday): The National Weather Service has updated its river level forecast and is now predicting a crest of 457.7 feet at 1 a.m. Monday. The observed river level climbed 2.5 feet to 456.5 feet since yesterday's 7 a.m. observation of 454 feet.

Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark released an updated list of roads that were closed due to high water: KY 1838 (Corn Creek Road) near Watson Landing, Wises Landing Road, Lower Gills Ridge Road, Coopers Bottom Road, KY 36, Spring Avenue in Milton, School Hollow Road, Maple Street and Law Lane.

Residents along KY 36 could still use KY 1492 and Hunter Heights Road to move in and out, but Stark said to use caution if leaving as the water is still rising. He also said do not attempt to drive into the water at the U.S. 421 North and KY 36 intersection as the water was deep and the current was fast.

He also cautioned motorists throughout the county to watch for debris in the roadway because of the flash flooding yesterday.

Trimble County Road Department Supervisor Eddy Callis said Ogden Ridge Road was reduced to one lane near the far end from KY 625 due to a 200-foot slip.

Update No. 10 (11:30 p.m. Saturday): Trimble County Emergency Management reported that KY 36 was closed on both the Milton and Carrollton sides at the intersections. Motorists will need to use an alternate route.

Trimble County Road Department Supervisor Eddy Callis said there was flash flooding at a bridge on Milton-Bedford Pike. He also asked that people do not move road closed signs that the department has put up on flooded county roads.

Update No. 9 (10:45 p.m. Saturday): The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is reporting water over the road in several places on Sulphur-Bedford Road (KY 3175).

"Motorists should use caution when traveling this route and do not drive through the water," said Andrea Clifford, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's District Five. "It is difficult to tell how deep the water really is."

Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark also shared in a 10 p.m. update that water is almost over the turning lane on KY 36 at the intersection of U.S. 42 in Carroll County. Motorists should use caution and consider alternate routes. He added that it wouldn't be long until KY 36 is closed at the intersection.

Update No. 8 (7 p.m. Saturday): The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Trimble County until 10:45 p.m.

At 6:47 p.m., Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly.

The weather service recommends the following precautions: Turn around, don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding. In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to cross flooded roads. Find an alternate route. 

Update No. 7 (2:30 p.m. Saturday): The Ohio River at Clifty Creek reached 454 feet this morning on the river level gauge, 3 feet shy of moderate flood stage. The current National Weather Service forecast calls for the river to reach moderate stage at 457 feet around 7 a.m. Monday. Although predictions have the river at 457 feet high for around 24 hours, the river will remain in flood stage through much of next week.

A 10 a.m. update from Trimble County Emergency Management noted that KY 36 and the Milton-Madison Bridge were open and would remain open until water made the roads unsafe. Director Andrew Stark said there are no plans currently to close the bridge, although if the high water forced a closure, it would probably be on Monday.

Milton Fire and Rescue posted on the department's Facebook page that crews, along with the assistance of the Trimble County Sheriff's Office Humvee, rescued a man around 3 p.m. Friday from Coopers Bottom Road after water came within 150 feet of his house and he was unable to leave. Milton Mayor Denny Jackson also said one person needed assistance earlier in the week when the water began flooding School Hollow Road.

The American Red Cross shelter at the Morgan Community Center, 147 Victory Ave. in Bedford, remains open. The Red Cross is also operating a shelter in Carroll County at the National Guard Armory, 1828 KY 227 in Carrollton.

Update No. 6 (5:30 p.m. Friday): The Ohio River continues to rise out of its banks with waters growing deeper in downtown Milton. Milton Mayor Denny Jackson said the city was hard at work making arrangements for residents to stay at churches and other locations if they have to leave their homes. 

A crew of four was also working throughout the day, making all the necessary preparations for the city, including work done in the city's park, he said.

"They're tying the picnic tables to poles so they don't float away, clearing trash so that don't add to the mess and blocking streets," he said.

The city has also made arrangements with the Farmers Bank of Milton and the Milton Post Office so both could operate at Milton City Hall.

"They're welcome to stay here as long as they need to," Jackson said.

Businesses in downtown Milton were also keeping an eye on the rising waters and the forecast. 

Darrell Henderson of Milton Auto Sales said he'll check the forecast again in the morning and make a decision on what action he needs to take. When the Flood of '97 occurred, he said there was approximately 2 feet of water in the car lot. He's hoping the river forecast recedes from the predicted water levels.

"If not, I'll move cars across the river and clean up some of the building," he said.

Sam Wantland of Smoker Friendly Riverside said the Flood of '97 didn't quite reach the building but the water flooded the lower portion of their parking lot.

"We're hoping for the best. We're watching the weather and the river gauges," he said.

School Hollow Road in Milton was one of the roads shut down because of the rising water. Trimble County Road Supervisor Eddy Callis also reported around 2 p.m. that water was over the road along Gills Ridge Road, near the bottom of the hill before reaching Wises Landing Road.

Previous updates are available below:

Update No. 5 (1 p.m. Friday): Bedford Mayor Todd Pollock said the American Red Cross would open a shelter at the Morgan Community Center, 147 Victory Ave. He expected the shelter to be open around 4 p.m. Friday.

Residents needing shelter are asked to bring clothing, medications and basic necessities only. No pets will be allowed and no furniture either, according to the Trimble County Emergency Management Facebook page.

Update No. 4 (11:10 a.m. Friday): Coopers Bottom Road is now closed to traffic, Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark said.

Carrollton Utilities' natural gas service in Milton will be turned off, according to information from its Facebook page. 

Update No. 3 (9:50 a.m. Friday): Andrea Clifford, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's District Five, said Connector Road at the Little Kentucky River has water over a portion or all of the roadway and motorists should detour the area.

The observed river level at Clifty Creek was 451.4 feet as of 7 a.m. Friday. The forecast from the National Weather Service still calls for the Ohio River to continue rising, reaching 457.1 feet at 1 p.m. Monday, just above moderate flood stage. 

Update No. 2 (Midnight Thursday): Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark shared the department's most recent update online.

"Coopers Bottom is already closed in areas," Stark said. "However after my drive down the road to the farthest McCoy's campground, there are already three other spots that are beginning to see water on the edges of the road. If you haven't already made plans to wait out the flooding, I would do so now. With only a foot more of water these three places will be under water and maybe more. Please be prepared.

"Most of the people who have lived on the river for any amount of time already know floods are a part of life. However, if you plan on waiting out the flood, make sure to have plenty of bottled water, flashlights, food and more. It may be several days before the water begins to lower. We are here monitoring the conditions over night. During the day, please consider preparing if you have not already.

"Always be safe and 'Turn Around, Don't Drown.'"

Update No. 1 (6:40 p.m. Thursday): Trimble County Road Department Supervisor Eddy Callis said the bottom of Barth Hill in Milton was closed to traffic.

The original story from Thursday afternoon is posted below:

The mighty Ohio River is expected to grow deeper and wider throughout the weekend as weather forecasters now expect the river to reach moderate flood stage.

The river level gauge at Clifty Creek recorded an observed value of 449.5 feet at 7 a.m. Thursday morning. The gauge at Clifty Creek utilizes a different scale that factors in elevation to the river value as well, compared to the Markland Dam gauge normally used for the Banner's river forecast. Flood stage on the scale at Clifty Creek occurs when the river reaches 451 feet.

A forecast issued at 12:43 p.m. from the National Weather Service predicts the Ohio River will be at 451.7 feet as of 7 p.m. Thursday. The river levels will continue to rise, surpassing the moderate flood stage with a forecast 457.1 feet around 1 p.m. Monday.

According to the National Weather Service, lower parts of Milton flood when the river reaches 449 feet on the Clifty Creek gauge, in addition to flooding at the public landing in Madison. When the river reaches 457 feet, water covers the west end of First Street in Madison, the Clifty Creek State Park entrance floods and "half of Milton is flooded," according to the flood impact information available.

Trimble County Emergency Management Director Andrew Stark said the forecast will put the river 3 feet shy of the crest during the Flood of '97. He said the Milton end will be impacted most in addition to the Wises Landing area and U.S. 42 East along the Little Kentucky River.

He said emergency management has contact the City of Bedford and the Red Cross in the case the need to open shelters arises.

"Other than that, it's a waiting game," Stark said. "We have to wait and see how much more rain we will get and how much rain anywhere east of us on the Ohio River receives."

Stark's office will be monitoring the weather situation throughout the weekend. The National Weather Service is still forecasting an additional 2-4 inches of rain through Sunday across much of the Ohio River valley.

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