Kentucky Emergency Management/Office of the Governor
GOVERNOR BESHEAR RETURNS TO FLOODED COUNTIES IN WESTERN KENTUCKY
Governor also visits new Regional Emergency Coordination Center
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 3, 2011) –Five days after his initial visit to flooded areas in far western Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear says rising floodwaters still pose significant danger to homes and communities along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Gov. Beshear visited Fulton, McCracken and Marshall counties today to assess response efforts. He also visited the recently opened Regional Emergency Coordination Center (RECC) at the Benton Armory.
“The emergency response efforts during this disaster have been nothing short of heroic,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our local emergency management officials, state emergency responders and Kentucky National Guard members have worked very hard for more than a week to make sure our families are safe.”
The cities of Smithland in Livingston County and Hickman in Fulton County have evacuated in advance of rising floodwaters. In Livingston County, the city of Ledbetter is evacuating as flood waters are expected to breach their levee by 5:30 CDT. Currently, approximately 3,800 citizens have been evacuated in these three cities.
The Governor viewed flooded areas along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and noted that the intentional breach of a levee in Missouri last night may ease pressure on floodwalls in Kentucky.
“I support the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to breach the Birds Point levee. It was a difficult decision, but the protection of lives must come before the protection of property,” the Governor said. “This move may lessen some of the damages that many Kentucky communities face.”
Approximately 400 National Guardsmen and 140 tactical vehicles have been deployed in six counties to assist in security operations, sandbagging efforts and other flood protection details. More troops are on standby and will be deployed as needed.
As of Tuesday morning, the KYEM Commonwealth Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) has coordinated the supply of over 1.2 million sandbags, 18 diesel water pumps, 60 road signs and barriers, 600 blankets and cots, 35 vehicles, 20,000 bottles of water, and 16 fast septic units to affected counties across the state
The RECC coordinates response efforts closer to the flooded areas. Responders from the Kentucky division of Emergency Management (KyEM), the Kentucky National Guard, and state agencies including the Department of Public Health, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), the Department for Environmental Protection and the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources staff the center to ensure smooth facilitation of responses to emergency needs. KyEM also has deployed the Mobile Command Center to augment communications at the facility.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials predict that the lower Ohio River will crest at 58 feet - three feet above the earlier prediction - putting homes and businesses at risk. These numbers are subject to change with the forecast of additional rainfall.
According to KYTC, approximately 285 roads are closed, affecting about 60 counties. Because of the rapidly changing nature of flooding, road closure information can quickly become outdated. Before traveling to an affected area, check with local authorities. Traffic information for interstates, parkways and major routes is available at 511.ky.gov or by calling 511. In addition, KYTC has a map on its website (www.transportation.ky.gov) indicating road closures.
Last week, the Governor requested a major disaster declaration from the President of the United States for Individual Assistance, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation and Small Business Administration disaster loans. In addition, Gov. Beshear requested a disaster declaration for Kentucky’s farm families from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and directed the temporary suspension of restrictions on certain motor carriers and utility vehicles delivering disaster relief supplies.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives continue damage assessments. The federal teams work alongside representatives from KyEM, small business administration and local emergency management. These joint assessment teams will assess all damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes in each county with a disaster declaration in order to calculate the magnitude of loss. The total assessments will help determine the level of federal disaster relief.