Governor Steve Beshear today declared a State of Emergency due to the severe storms and flooding that have impacted the state beginning last week. Heavy rains and multiple rounds of severe weather occurred over much of Kentucky, Southwest Missouri, Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana over the weekend. This weather pattern is expected to continue for the next several days. As a result, sharp rises have occurred on the minor rivers and tributaries across most of the Commonwealth; minor to moderate flooding is expected on these water courses.
The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers are forecast to have major flooding with the possibility of historic flooding along the rivers from the Kentucky/Tennessee line on the Mississippi through the Cairo confluences and all the way up the Ohio River to Smithland, Ky. Moderate flooding on the Ohio is expected from Smithland upstream to Louisville.
“Today I have issued this declaration in order to make sure our citizens and local officials have all the help they need to prepare and respond to these storms,” said Gov. Beshear. “This declaration opens up the pipelines and the purse strings to enable us to get resources to where they are needed, as quickly as possible. In addition, all of state government has been mobilized to assist Kentuckians in need.”
Gov. Beshear is also prepared to assist Kentucky farmers and consumers. “My office has already been in contact with the United States Department of Agriculture, and we will request a disaster declaration if flooding causes damage to agricultural lands as is expected,” said Gov. Beshear. “In addition, my office has conferred with the office of Attorney General Jack Conway, and as a result of these conversations, we will be issuing an order to prevent price gouging shortly.”
In support of the ongoing severe weather threat Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) has activated the Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) at Level II. Another weather system is approaching the Commonwealth bringing the threat of additional heavy rains and the possibility of severe weather through Wednesday. Additional personnel from KYEM and Kentucky National Guard (KyNG) are now on CEOC duty monitoring the developing situation and fulfilling any requests for assistance.
Written disaster declarations have been received for the City of Bardwell as well as Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman, Spencer and Livingston Counties. Verbal declarations have been received by Ballard and McCracken Counties. More are expected as the storms continue.
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 ensure proper food handling and storage. More detailed health and safety guidelines can be found at the Health Alerts website: http://healthalerts.ky.gov/.
The Transportation Cabinet is providing equipment like pumps, dump trucks and sandbagging machines to counties who have requested them. Crews are also patrolling flood-prone areas and they are ready to respond to additional flooding. They also respond to calls about flooded roads that come from law enforcement or the public at large.
For road closures and conditions, please visit www.511.ky.gov, or call 511.
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.
Weather safety tips and weather alerts by county can be found on the KYEM website at www.kyem.ky.gov
“Please follow instructions from your local emergency management officials,” said Gov. Beshear. No trip is worth taking the risk through a flooded roadway.”
Follow Governor Beshear on Twitter @Govstevebeshear http://twitter.com/govstevebeshear, read the Governor’s personal notes on his blog at http://blog.governor.ky.gov/, and view the Governor’s weekly YouTube commentary at http://www.youtube.com/governorbeshear.