Louisville surprised by flood

As damage assessments continue, volunteers begin helping residents whose homes were damaged by flash flooding this week.

BY ZACH HOFFMAN | LOUISVILLE, KY | August 5, 2009


The main office of the Louisville Free Public Library downtown surged with more than three feet of water Aug. 4 when about six inches of water fell on the city in an hour. The library's parking garage was flooded trapping cars and damaging the library's Bookmobiles.

Residents of Louisville, Kentucky, reeling from record flash flooding and power outages Tuesday night and Wednesday, are welcoming volunteers who begin the process of helping to clean-up homes and businesses damaged by the record single-day rainfall.

“When I talk about the most rain in this community in a one hour period, we've set it today,” Bud Schardein, the Louisville, Kentucky Metropolitan Sewer District Director, said Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service in Louisville gathered reports of four to six inches of rainfall in an hour and a half throughout the city reaching as high as 7.4 inches at the McAlpine River Dam on the Ohio River, according to meteorologist Joe Ammerman.

Much of the floodwater has been pumped from the streets; however, there are many homes and public buildings that have water in their basements, including the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library downtown.

The library sustained losses of thousands of books, computer equipment and even the library’s Bookmobile when more than three feet of water rushed in, according to officials.

In addition, the Kentucky Public Service Commission has reported 20,000 people without electricity and 700 power lines down.

Louisville Animal Shelter Services successfully relocated 450 animals to temporary shelter at the fair grounds, and PetSmart Charities has already stepped in to provide the food and facility needs for these animals.

The scope of damage has not been determined as of yet; teams provided by the National Guard are currently doing door to door assessments in the hardest hit area, which encompasses about a 23 block radius surrounding the University of Louisville, according to officials.

Sherry Buresch of the Christian Appalachian Project said they have about 25 volunteers ready to go early next week. They will also be training volunteers as they come into the city.

Also, local Southern Baptist teams have already deployed “mud-out” teams to help about a dozen homes as well as a church that has requested help from them.

“Mudding-out” is the term used to describe the process of clean up after flood damage, as basements and flooded areas are cleared of debris.

The most need for assistance, according to officials, has come from senior adults who are unable to do the work themselves and other residents who are concerned with where to place the accumulated debris.

For now local disaster relief organizations are attempting to take care of the needs of the community, but national organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, Church Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are poised to respond.

“It’s certainly an unusual event to have that much rain at once, extremely unusual to have it in this short of time period,” said Joe Ammerman. “It just overwhelms all the public stations and creates flooding.”

“Kentuckians have been hard hit by a record number of natural disasters in the past year, more severe than any in our recorded history, but we are resilient and we will recover,” said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.


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