2 die in Ky. floods

Metcalfe dam in danger of collapse; Roads closed

bmusgrave1@herald-leader.com bestep@herald-leader.comMay 3, 2010 

Heavy rain caused two deaths in Kentucky on Sunday, closed roads throughout the state and led to evacuations after officials were concerned that a dam in Metcalfe County might collapse.

Kentucky Emergency Management officials said late Sunday one death in Barren County and one in Madison County were weather-related.

Kentucky State Police at Richmond said Carl D. Rogers, 65, of 105 Otter Creek Road in Richmond died at his home as rescue teams arrived.

Rogers' home was surrounded by water, police said, but rescuers were unable to reach him because of waist-high water and a strong electrical current.

He fell into the water and was believed to have died from electrocution, police said.

Details of the Barren County death were not available.

At least 23 counties and eight cities declared states of emergency, and schools were closed Monday in several counties.

Portions of Interstates 64 and 65 and the Mountain and Bluegrass parkways were closed for parts of the day — as were dozens of other roads — as a storm system dumped as much as 9 inches of rain in the state during the weekend.

The rain sent rising water over the top of an earthen dam at Dunham Lake in Edmonton on Sunday, leading to evacuations because of fears the dam might break.

Kentucky State Police and the National Guard set up a command post at the site.

The evacuation was voluntary; some people left and some didn't, said state Trooper Billy Gregory, spokesman at the Columbia post. A shelter was set up at Edmonton Worship Center.

Metcalfe County schools were closed Monday, and Sumitomo employees were asked not to report to work.

Main roads into Edmonton, the seat of Metcalfe County in south-central Kentucky, were closed, Gregory said.

Late Sunday afternoon, the rain had gotten lighter and the water in the lake was receding. Gregory said the 450-foot-long dam held, but police were staying because water continued to flow into the seven-acre recreational lake.

"Right now, we're just waiting," he said.

Officials were concerned about possible erosion around the spillway and the top of the dam, Gregory said.

Marilyn Thomas, a dam safety expert with the state dam safety branch, said U.S. 68/Ky. 80 at the dam was closed because of concern the water could spill over the dam and onto the road.

The National Weather Service in Louisville said many areas got 7 inches of rain. Bowling Green logged more than 9 inches. Most of the state was under a flood watch or warning, or both.

People were evacuated in several counties, including an apartment complex in Danville; two emergency centers were set up in Madison County; and emergencies were declared in Boyle, Fleming, Garrard, Jessamine, Harrison, Lincoln, Marion, Mercer, Powell, Rowan, Scott, Washington and other counties and the cities of Berea, Georgetown, Richmond, Sadie ville and Stamping Ground. Schools were closed Monday in Garrard, Madison, Montgomery and other counties.

The Mountain Parkway was closed in both directions at mile-marker 16 between Clay City and Stanton for several hours, but the eastbound lanes reopened shortly after 6 p.m. The parkway remained closed to westbound traffic in Powell County late Sunday.

Westbound I-64 in Rowan County also was closed.

And a 10-mile section of eastbound Bluegrass Parkway in Hardin County, from the I-65 interchange at Elizabethtown eastward, was closed.

A few dozen roads in Fayette County were closed by high water, said Sam Williams, director of the Streets, Roads and Forestry Division. Among the more significant roads closed were Forbes Road between Old Frankfort Pike and Versailles Road, and Todds Road near the Clark County line.

North Broadway at the railroad overpass south of New Circle Road also was closed.

Williams said the city's water and sewer department and streets and roads crews were working Sunday to try to alleviate some of the backed-up water on city streets. He expected more employees to come in Sunday night as the rain continued. But Williams said many of the problems were minor.

"The main thing is for people to be careful," he said. "As I drove in here shortly after noon today, I drove through some spots where the water is just a few inches; in some places it was a foot."

Cliff Feltham, a spokesman for Kentucky Utilities, said no long-term power outages were reported Sunday in Central Kentucky. Feltham said there were minor outages in southern and western parts of the state, but almost all of those outages had been restored by late Sunday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said that, even when the rain stops, water levels in some areas could continue to rise.

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