Shelby wet and mostly mild

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By The Staff

The rains came down and the floods came up in Shelby County this weekend, but the houses upon the rocks stood firm.


For the most part, that sums up the impact locally of the flooding rains that caused death and calamity across Kentucky and other Southern states this past weekend.

Shelby County was drenched with nearly five inches of rain, but the greatest problem was closed roads, limited access and houses that became castles for their residents.

Drainage systems overflowed their banks, and the flow into Clear Creek and Bullskin Creek was backed up in the traditionally low-lying areas for up to 16 hours. Roads such as Antioch, Scott Station, Anderson Lane, Fox Run and others were completely impassable, and warning signs were placed by the county road department.

Brashears Creek at Pickett’s Dam surged like a mountain stream, carrying tree limbs, debris and even a basketball in a rapid ride south.

“We had from four to six inches of rain,” County Road Department Supervisor Carl Henry said. “We’ve had to do a lot of clean up from the flooding.

“The roads that normally flood during heavy rains flooded. They were open this [Monday] morning.”


Problems but no rescues

But there were other scattered problems.

The sewage system in Shelbyville was overwhelmed by runoff Sunday, and Elmo Head Park on 3rd Street will remain closed until the ground dries out. Lime was spread to control bacteria in the area.

Guist Creek Lake went into overflow mode to deal with the rising water, and Gail Ritter of Shelby County reported on The Sentinel-News Facebook page that her family couldn’t camp at Lake Shelby as scheduled.

“We are on the outside looking in,” she wrote. “[We] can't get to our trailer. The creek is really up there.”

Indeed Clear Creek basically extended the size of the lake out to Burks Branch Road, and the access road was completely underwater.

“At the dam, [Guist Creek] at a certain elevation, the water has a spillway, to keep it from flowing over the dam, keeps the lake from getting so high that it could damage the dam,’ Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie Frazee said. “It was rocking and rolling down there at Lake Shelby though on Sunday.

“There, the water is designed to go over the dam. What was really lucky, it would rain hard for a while, then slack up before it rained hard again. That saved us.”

Houses and the Methodist church in Graefenburg were threatened by rising waters, and in Chestnut Grove the surging creek came perilously close to back porches, but there was no report of any evacuations.

“We had no rescues,” Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie Frazee said. ”We had a guy out on Scott Station Road who tried to drive through water. He got out on his own. Embarrassed, but that’s about it.

“On 1st through 4th [streets, in Shelbyville], especially on Bradshaw near Clear Creek, it flooded but didn’t get into anybody’s house.”


Road problems

Henry reported a couple of slide situations on Rockbridge and Figgs Store roads. “That’s where the ground gives way,” he said. “And we didn’t just have rain. We had wind, too. Trees fell across the road in those spots.”

Police reported only a limited number of minor accidents, though Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Gilbert said there were quite a few fender benders during his watch, most of them in the area of Interstate 64 where accidents run precipitously high.

“Most of them were on I-64, mostly around the 38 and 39th mile markers,” he said. “I worked two at the 38, one eastbound and one westbound, and one eastbound at the 44.

“The state police worked two at the 38, westbound. We had three rollovers. We were lucky. All were minor injuries.

“It was all weather-related from water pooling on the roadway, and people were going too fast. Everybody told me they were going the speed limit, but that was too fast for all that rain.”


Farm issues

The long-term effect of the rain on local farms won’t be apparent for at least five days and maybe longer, Shelby County Extension Agent Brett Reese said.

“For most part there weren’t an problems, a little bit of washing of some of the grain fields,” he said. “But most of our farmers have gone to no-till, so that’s not much of a factor.

“We don’t know as much about crops drowning out. We’ll have to wait to see in five days, until everything dries up.”

He did say that tobacco farmers might have a problem with plants that need to be transplanted from the greenhouse and thus are susceptible to disease. They have to wait for the ground to dry to complete that process.

Reese said because of the predominantly dry spring that farmers were well ahead in corn planting, but they would have to be patient to see if their hay dries up and cures up sufficiently by the time it needs to be cut.

“[Overall] we just won’t know how things went until later on,” he said.


Statewide report

Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency statewide. There have been four confirmed deaths attributed to this latest storm system in Madison, Barren, Allen and Lincoln counties.

Forty-one counties and 15 cities have issued emergency declarations either in writing or verbally. These numbers are likely to increase as recovery efforts continue.

The heaviest rain from this weekend’s historic precipitation event fell across a corridor from Bowling Green to southeast of Lexington, according to data recorded by Kentucky Mesonet weather stations.

The Mesonet station at the Western Kentucky University Farm recorded 10.17 inches of rain within 36 hours from Saturday morning to late Sunday afternoon with totals of more than 7 inches recorded at sites in Adair, Allen, Barren, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Lincoln, Logan, Madison, Metcalfe, Rowan and Taylor counties.

“This was an historic event especially in the southern part of Kentucky,” said Dr. Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet and the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU. “For the hardest hit areas, this type of event occurs every 100 to 200 years. Many of us will probably never see rainfall like this again.”

For the storm’s impact in Shelby County, there is some relief.

“Today, the main problem we’ve been getting a lot of calls about is drainage issues, and we can’t do anything about that,” Henry said.

“I’ve seen a whole lot worse. We had no major damage at all. I’m not unhappy with it.”


The Kentucky Press Association News Content Service contributed to this report.