Worst May Be Over For Kentucky Flooding
MARK R. CHELLGREN
Feb. 17, 1989
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ The sunshine that peeked through on Thursday only illuminated the swirling, muddy water that has covered much of central and western Kentucky in the worst flooding in more than a decade.
''I feel confident that in almost all areas, that the situation has stabilized,'' said Ronn Padgett, of the state Division of Disaster and Emergency Services.
Almost every river, creek and stream in the western two-thirds of the state was sent out of its banks with rain that topped 10 inches in some places. Flooding sent hundreds of people out of their homes, and roads were closed by high water in 82 of the state's 120 counties.
Some roads reopened Thursday as waters receded.
Gov. Wallace Wilkinson, who took a helicopter tour of some affected areas Thursday afternoon, said the state had had more than its share of bad luck recently with the summer drought in 1988 and now the flooding.
''If you have a nice, effective prayer you can say for us, you can say it,'' he said.
Officials hoped for a respite with a weather forecast that contained little chance of rain until Friday.
''It sure looks like it's over, barring anything unforeseen,'' said Alex Beauvois, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Louisville. He said the forecast called for one-fourth to one-half inch of rain or less on Friday.
A state of emergency remained in effect Thursday with nearly 200 National Guard troops patrolling flooded areas to provide security to abandoned property. Guardsmen were also involved in two rescues near Frankfort.
Sgt. Jeff Oliver waded in water up to his chest to a group of stranded campers, and Sgt. Kenny Moore saved a woman and child whose pickup truck was being carried away in the swollen Kentucky River.
Adjutant General Michael Davidson said troops would remain on duty as long as needed, but added, ''My gut feeling is we're over the hump on this.''
The hardest hit area was in Christian County on the Tennessee border, where nearly 300 people were evacuated. Pendleton County, in northern Kentucky, had more than 100 people evacuated.
''I've cried and I've prayed, but I guess the Lord wasn't ready to answer our prayer,'' said Elma Ruth Troutman of Calhoun, whose her trailer home was hauled away from rising waters of the Green River.
In Frankfort, the Kentucky River was expected to crest at 44 feet, more than 10 feet above flood stage but about 5 feet lower than the devastating flood of 1978.
At a Jim Beam distillery in Boston south of Louisville, workers were brought in by boat Thursday, said Judy Bowman, spokeswoman at the company's Clermont headquarters.
''That's the only way to get in and out,'' she said.
The plant, which has a flood-control system to keep water out of the plant, continued to operate at full capacity, she said.
In Tennessee, Gov. Ned McWherter on Thursday asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to designate eight Middle Tennessee counties as flood disaster areas. The request is based on flooding Tuesday in Wilson County, where damanges were estimated at $1.9 million. Under federal disaster guidelines, all adjoining counties also become eligible when a disaster designation is made.
A report by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency showed 66 businesses and 28 homes in the Lebanon area sustained flood damage. All but 14 businesses and nine homes were without flood insurance. The uninsured loss was estimated at $1.6 million.