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County braces for more rising water

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Ohio River expected crest on Thursday at 55.5 feet

By Jeff Moore

Monday was a busy day at Community Feed and Seed in Prestonville. Owner Junior Welch and his workers were hard at work moving everything out of the building to save it from the rising Ohio River.

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Nearby in Prestonville, Carroll County Clerk Alice Marsh was packing up belongings at her home and that of her mother-in-law, Betty Marsh, next door as they prepared to move items on in case backwater rises like it did in 1997.

The week of swollen Ohio and Kentucky rivers, roads covered by water, flash floods, heavy rain and severe storms led Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson to declare a state of emergency late Monday afternoon.

“Low lying areas experienced severe flash flooding due to the excessive rainfall and runoff from higher elevated areas,” Tomlison said in the declaration. “The effects in Carroll County would be the destruction of crops as well as erosion of roadways, creek banks, ditch lines, damages to utilities (water, sewer, gas and electric) and supporting base for roadways/bridges. Water damage resulting from head waters as well as back waters have caused extensive damage to residences as well as businesses over a widespread area.”

The main entrance to Community Feed and Seed was already blocked by the water Monday. Welch said he decided to go ahead and move the more than 100,000 pounds of feed, materials and products in his store, in addition to everything in his auction house.

With the Ohio expected to rise another three or four feet by Wednesday, Welch said wants to protect his  $150,000 to $200,000 in merchandise that would not be covered by flood insurance.

This is the highest level the river has hit since his building was constructed in 1998. Based on flooding in 1997, he said he raised the site by four feet and everything inside, such as electrical services, is at levels above the 1964 flood.

Customers had helped with some on Monday by taking a month’s supply of feed, Welch said, giving his crew less to move into tractor trailers.

Across the bridge in Carrollton, McNeal’s moved stock from its warehouse below the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Friday.

That was also the case up the street at local businessman and city councilman Kevin Craig’s home in the Main Street condos.

Craig said they moved everything out of his garage, as did his neighbors, on Friday.

On Monday, he said there was about 3½ feet of water in his garage, but said that the Ohio would have to rise another 5½ to six feet to impact the next floor of his home.

Marsh said they decided to start packing up items Monday. In her home, they have moved things to the second story. At her mother-in-law’s home, they items are boxed and ready to be hauled out on a quickly, based on the conditions.

“Everyone has been extremely nice,” she said, noting they have offered to help move and offered trucks to assist with moving their items.

Marsh explained that their homes are not affected by the headwaters, instead by backwater that rises from Old Gilgal Road. That is what got their homes in 1997 when the Ohio crested at 60.7 feet.

At this point, Marsh said they are keeping up with the levels and remaining at home for now to see what happens with the water levels.

A river flood warning remains in effect for Carroll County.

At noon on Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported the Ohio River was at 52 feet at Markland Dam and expected to recede to below flood stage to 50 feet Wednesday, before rising to 55.5 feet by Thursday afternoon. The weather service predicts the river will fall below flood stage again on Saturday morning.

At levels near 55 feet, the weather service says lowland flooding worsens along the river in Switzerland County, Ind., and Gallatin and Carroll counites in Kentucky. Also, backwater flooding also occurs along the Kentucky River near Carrollton, according to the NWS statement.

If the Ohio River does rise to 55.5 feet, it will be the 10th highest crest at Markland Dam since records have been kept.

As of Tuesday, the Kentucky River had receded to 29.9 feet, from 34.7 feet on Monday. Perkins said this drop will help with backwater problems later this week if the area receives the heavy rains that are predicted.

Carroll County Flood Plain Manager Mitchell Perkins said Tuesday that several roads remain closed throughout Carroll County. These include: Blue Lick Road, Goose Creek Road, Notch Lick, Hampton Lane, Second Street in Carrollton and Old Gilgal/Sheehan Road and Old Carlisle Road.

Due to backwater flooding over the weekend,  Hwy. 36 East at Sanders, Buffalo Creek Road, state Hwy. 467 at Buffalo Creek Road and Buffalo Creek Road below Staffords Ridge were closed for a time. But Perkins said they reopened Monday after Eagle Creek receded.

Tomlinson said they are also keeping a close eye on state Hwy. 55, just past the split with state Hwy. 389, and on state Hwy. 389 near the Lazaar farm. Water is close to the level of the roadway in both locations and any rise in levels could close those roads.

Tomlinson said county officials have not had to open a shelter at this point because those who are displaced by the flooding are staying with family or friends. Anyone needing such assistance, he said, should contact the judge-executive’s office or call Carroll County Dispatch at its non-emergency number, (502) 732-6621.

In Carrollton, the city’s fire department helped Jefferson Community and Technical College move its eletrical applicances and perishables to the third floor in case of flooding there, assistant chief Harold “Tinks” Dews said.

Firefighters also assisted a family at 706 11th Street on Saturday by pumping water out of their basement.

Across the bridge in Prestonville, Westside Fire Department is keeping an eye on water levels. In the event the river rises at their building, the department plans to bring two of their engines to Carrollton Fire Department for response to calls.

Tomlinson said officials remain concerned about additional rainfall predicted on Wednesday with 2-3 inches in the forecast.

He also warned local residents that it is extremely dangerous to try driving through high water that is covering roadways.