Residents in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee battle floods
Mar. 03, 1997
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ More rain fell today across the Tennessee and Ohio valleys, where thousands of homes had been flooded and some people had to flee to their roofs to wait for rescue.
Flooding and tornadoes were blamed for at least 18 deaths in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, in addition to the 24 killed by tornadoes in Arkansas, and flooding also devastated hundreds of homes in West Virginia. Separately, thunderstorms killed two people in Texas on Sunday.
Many streams were still rising toward flood crests today, and flash flood watches remained in effect for many counties.
One to 3 inches of rain was possible today from Tennessee and western Kentucky through southern Ohio and West Virginia, the National Weather Service said, on top of the 10 inches that fell beginning Saturday in parts of the region.
In Kentucky, officials in north-central Louisville and Jefferson counties said Sunday that 40,000 homes and businesses had been flooded.
``We slept in the attic,'' Dawn Miller said Sunday after a National Guard all-terrain vehicle rescued her her family from their home in southwestern Jefferson County.
In Nelson County just southwest of Louisville, the Rolling Fork was rising about 6 inches an hour this morning in the town of Boston.
All roads into the town were under 3 to 4 feet of water. The National Guard was able to get around but ``nobody else comes in and out,'' said firefighter Wade Hibbs.
In northeastern Kentucky, the town of Falmouth was ``devastated'' by the South Fork of the Licking River, said David Altom, a Kentucky National Guard spokesman.
Officials said 90 percent of the town's 2,700 residents had been evacuated, and the entire business district is gone.
So many people sought refuge atop their homes that officials ``lost track after they rescued the first 100 or so off roofs,'' Altom said.
The Licking River at Falmouth was expected to crest at a record 52 feet today, easily surpassing the record 47.1 feet in March 1964, the weather service said.
However, many gauges along the river were under water. ``It's off our charts,'' said weather service hydrologist Mike Callahan in Louisville.
All that water was flowing downstream toward the Ohio River, which Callahan said could have its worst flooding since 1964 along a stretch from Madison, Ind., to Tell City, Ind., which includes Louisville.
Downtown Shepherdsville, Ky., in nearby Bullitt County was mostly under water on Sunday.
West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood declared a state of emergency Sunday in 14 counties, allowing the National Guard to assist.
Most of those counties reported evacuations but officials said they couldn't tell how many people were affected. All roads were closed into the town of Milton, just east of Huntington.
Ohio Gov. George Voinovich had declared a state of emergency for a total of 14 counties.
``We have a lot of roads that have slipped and had blacktop rolled up off of them, bridges destroyed, culverts out,'' said Jane Cahall, director of the Emergency Management Agency in southwestern Ohio's Brown County. ``We have a large number of mudslides _ hillsides that have just caved in.''
Rescue workers using helicopters, boats and dogs located 11 people who had been unaccounted for early Sunday in Adams and Scioto counties. One family of five had left their home and fled to higher ground, taking shelter in an old school bus.
In Tennessee, most of the state remained under a flash-flood watch.
``There's still more rain coming and the rivers haven't crested yet,'' said Lynne Richlen of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Southern Illinois, meanwhile, braced for more flooding today after overnight rainstorms added more water to already burgeoning rivers and creeks. The ground remained saturated, and officials said any additional rain could result in flash flooding.