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Metro Newsroom

Louisville Metro Responds to Heavy Rains, Flooding

Saturday September 23, 2006

Mayor urges citizens to avoid floodwater, prepare for more rain

Mayor Jerry Abramson and leaders of Louisville’s emergency and public-services agencies met this morning to assess and coordinate the city’s ongoing response to heavy rains and localized flooding across the Louisville area.  Parts of Louisville experienced more than six inches of rain in less than 24 hours.

“This is the greatest deluge of rain we’ve had in this community since the 1997 flood – and more is on the way,” Abramson said. “Citizens need to be prepared and alert throughout the evening. If you don’t need to travel tonight, stay home and stay safe.” 

Abramson said the heaviest rains overnight were in the northern portion of the community.  In 1997, Louisville’s southern areas experienced the most flooding.  More than $120 million in drainage and flood protection enhancements have been made since 2003. 

Currently, creeks and streams are experiencing the most flooding with some isolated streets and park roads being covered with water. 

MetroSafe received has received more than 1,400 calls for service since 11:30 p.m. last night, including calls for water rescues, stranded motorists, electrical fires and downed trees. 

Emergency Services
The Louisville Fire Department fought five structure fires resulting from lightning or electrical problems resulting from flooding, and made more than 120 rescues.  The suburban fire departments made 200 rescues, and assisted emergency agencies in Bullitt and Oldham counties.  More than 540 urban and suburban firefighters have been involved emergency response.  Four firefighters received injuries and have been treated and released. 

The Louisville Swift Water Rescue team, which includes firefighters from several local departments, is staging its six swift-water boats from Bowman Field, and the National Guard has made available an additional eight rescue boats and two helicopters if needed. 

Louisville Metro EMS is maintaining 32 response vehicles across the community.  Saints Mary & Elizabeth Hospital experienced flooding and deployed backup generators this morning and, as a result, EMS is diverting runs to other area hospitals. 

More than 110 citizens in the Buechel and Newburg areas were evacuated from their homes and transported by TARC to an American Red Cross shelter set up at Seneca High School.  

Roads Affected as of noon on Saturday
Numerous neighborhood and park streets throughout the area are covered with water and are not passable. 

Interstate 64 is closed from between Cannons Lane and the Interstate 71 split due to water covering the roadway in several places.

Road closures for other main and through roads include:

Indian Hills Trail at Mockingbird Valley Rd.
Setonville Rd. near Echo Trail
Overnight, the city barricaded viaducts across Louisville that had completely flooded.  Water at most viaducts has receded and the roads are currently passable.  Barricades remain staged at the viaducts in order to block the roads should they flood with additional rains expected today and tonight. 

Mayor Urges Caution Around Flood Waters
“Citizens should avoid driving, wading or boating in flood waters,” Abramson said, noting that two feet of water is enough to sweep a car away, and just six inches of water can sweep a person away.  “We’re expecting more rain tonight, so use the daylight hours to be sure you and your family are prepared in case of emergency.”

The mayor offered other safety tips including:

Do not enter creeks or streams
Do not drive over water-covered roadways
Stay out of flooded basements until the water recedes
Do not use candles; use battery-powered flashlights and radios
Citizens can help drainage by raking debris away from drainage grates in streets, but should not remove the drain cover, according to MSD officials. 

Phone numbers to call for assistance include

911  - Life-threatening emergencies

311 or 574-5000 - Non-emergency service or government information

587-0603 - MSD – flooding, sewer backups

589-3500 - LG&E – power outages, trees on power lines

589-4450 - American Red Cross - sheltering, relief efforts