Kentucky Emergency Management
GOVERNOR BESHEAR WARNS RESIDENTS OF NEW FLOODING DANGERS, DIRECTED OPENING OF REGIONAL EMERGENCY COORDINATION CENTER
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 2, 2011) – Governor Steve Beshear today warned citizens in western Kentucky that flood projections are worsening, and announced plans to visit several affected counties again on Tuesday. Local officials began evacuating residents in Hickman, Ledbetter and Smithland because of the rising water.
Gov. Beshear also directed the opening of a Regional Emergency Coordination Center (RECC) at the Benton Armory in Marshall County to assist local response efforts. The RECC allows local, state, and federal officials to coordinate broad emergency responses across a larger region instead of in only individual cities or counties.
“Conditions have deteriorated since I visited western Kentucky on Thursday,” Gov. Beshear said. “The rivers are rising faster than we expected, and many of our communities are located squarely in the dangerous flood zones. I strongly urge residents to follow the recommendations of their local officials regarding evacuations. I will personally visit with local emergency officials on Tuesday to make sure they get all the help they need.”
Gov. Beshear also sent Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock to the flood zone to view and assess damages to state roadways and to ensure relief supplies continue to flow freely into the state.
As a result of more rain this weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) predicts 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.
The Kentucky National Guard (KyNG) deployed 100 soldiers to the city of Ledbetter to aid evacuation efforts. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, equipped with eight of their boats, will assist in these evacuations. Another 15 Guard troops are deployed to McCracken, Fulton and Livingston counties to help with emergency planning and resource management.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) crews continue to monitor flooded roads and set barricades to close affected roads to motorists. Crews have been working today to add gravel to U.S. 60 in the Ledbetter area of Livingston County. The work is an effort to maintain a route between Ledbetter and Paducah. U.S. 60 is already closed at other locations in multiple counties due to flooding.
Approximately 200 roads are closed across the state. 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.
Gov. Beshear and state officials remind drivers that it is extremely important not to travel into flooded areas. Motorists need to heed barricades and warning signs, and avoid areas where roads have been closed because they can quickly find themselves driving into high water or cut off by floodwaters.
The Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC), located in Frankfort, remains activated at Level III with additional staffing from Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM), KyNG, state cabinets and volunteer organizations monitoring the situation, fielding calls and responding to requests for assistance.
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 Vilsac, 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 Kentucky Emergency Management (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.