FRANKFORT , Ky. (April 26, 2011) - Beginning late last week, a series of weather systems have created severe storms bringing high winds, hail, tornadoes and historic rain amounts affecting the Commonwealth, prompting Governor Steve Beshear to declare yesterday that a state of emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Severe storms are in the forecast again today, overnight and through Wednesday with risks of possible tornadoes and additional heavy rains. This same storm system passed through Arkansas overnight and is being blamed for four deaths in that state.
“We continue to closely monitor the weather conditions and rising waters and remain in constant contact with our emergency management officials,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center remains activated at Level II with additional staffing from Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) and the Kentucky National Guard monitoring the situation, fielding calls and responding to requests for assistance.”
Flash flooding and river flooding remains a major concern in Kentucky . People and businesses along waterways should be taking the necessary steps to reduce flood threats to their property and families.
Minor to moderate flooding is occurring on the upper Ohio River from Cincinnati to Louisville , while moderate flooding is occurring from Louisville to Owensboro . Major flooding is expected to occur downstream from Owensboro to the Mississippi River and on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. Local evacuations have taken place and are expected to continue in flood-prone areas.
Sandbagging assistance for Ballard County and Smithland has been requested and 24 Kentucky National Guardsmen (KyNG) have been deployed to each location. Hancock County has requested additional sandbags and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has provided 10,000 sandbags to county emergency officials. Thirty-one KyNG personnel are enroute to the Daviess-Henderson County line to assist sandbagging operations at the KET/KEWS Tower.
No reports of injuries or deaths have been reported from these storms.
The following counties/cities have declared a state of emergency:
Counties: Ballard, Carlisle, Calloway, Carroll, Crittenden, Fleming, Fulton , Hardin, Henderson , Hickman, Livingston, Marshall, McCracken, Morgan, Nicholas, Spencer, Union and Webster.
Cities: Bardwell, Benton , Calvert City , Carrollton , Hardin, Hawesville, West Liberty and West Point.
The National Weather Service (NWS) offices serving Kentucky have been in communication with emergency officials across the Commonwealth discussing the situation and potential threat of high wind, large hail, heavy rain and possible tornadoes. KYEM officials, in turn, have maintained direct communications with the Governor's office.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and local health departments across the state are prepared to provide support to response efforts as needed. DPH also reminds Kentuckians that contact with flood waters should be avoided whenever possible as they may contain contaminants that could pose health hazards. Homeowners whose homes sustained water damage are also urged to follow safety recommendations to limit mold damage and to ensure proper food handling and storage. More detailed health and safety guidelines can be found at the Health Alerts website http://healthalerts.ky.gov
Officials continue urging motorists to avoid driving through flooded roadways and to report any downed power lines to their local utilities or emergency management. Numerous roads remain closed, primarily in the Pennyrile and Jackson Purchase areas, with closures elsewhere attributable to high water or storm-related damage, such as mud slides. In Murray , where high winds during the night apparently caused a great deal of damage, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) crews helped clear downed trees and other storm debris. KYTC crews are also cleaning up debris, including fallen trees and downed power lines, in Logan, Todd, Butler , Edmonson and Warren counties. The U.S. 51 bridge between Wickliffe and Cairo , Ill., is now impassable and closed due to water over the road on the levee leading to the bridge.
Emergency officials encourage individuals to use NOAA Weather Alert Radios and stay tuned to local media for weather updates and flood information.
Should you encounter a downed power line, do not approach it, call your utility provider. Should you encounter water over a flooded roadway, “Stop - Turn Around – Don’t Drown.” It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep a person off their feet and two feet of rushing water to sweep away a full-size SUV.