NICHOLASVILLE — Flash flooding forced dozens of people to flee their homes by boat in the Tates Creek Estates mobile home park Saturday.
The Jessamine County Fire Department helped 26 people evacuate between 2:20 a.m. and 7:10 a.m., said Chief Michael Rupard. Firefighters returned and helped 23 more people get out of their homes between 10:16 a.m. and 3:11 p.m., he said.
East Hickman Creek runs behind the mobile home park, which sits off Tates Creek Road just south of Lexington in Jessamine County. The creek has overflowed its banks often in past years, but several residents said they'd never seen anything like what happened early Saturday.
"This is the worst it's ever done," said Amy Smith, who said her home has been damaged by water three or four times since she's lived on Lois Lane, one of the hardest-hit streets in the neighborhood.
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Smith said she and her husband and two daughters left their home and went to a neighbor's house at about 3 a.m. Saturday. By 5 a.m., the water seemed to be going down, so they went back home, only to be reawakened by rushing water at about 9 a.m. That time, they were rescued by boat.
"We had laid back down because we thought it was over, but then it roared back really bad," Smith said.
On Saturday afternoon, the family waded across the small river that was Lois Lane to get two birds and five cats out of the mobile home. They planned to stay in a hotel for the night.
As 9-year-old Bobbie Nicole Smith waited in a neighbor's yard, a reporter asked whether she was ready to leave. She shook her head.
"My Christmas stuff's still in there," she said.
Her mother returned with bad news: "There's mud all through everything. If it ain't in your dresser drawer, it's gone."
A wooden porch from two doors down had washed into their front yard. Their own back porch had dislodged from their home. Amy Smith said eight loads of firewood that her husband had cut and stacked in their back yard for the winter had been washed away or scattered.
At one point, water was over the stop signs in the area around Hartley Drive and Lois Lane, Rupard said.
Pete Geogerian, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said about 31/2 inches of rain had fallen near the Fayette-Jessamine county line between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
"There was a really intense line" of rain, he said.
The fire department also helped evacuate the residents of four flooded homes on Eagle's Nest Drive in Nicholasville, Rupard said.
He said five vehicles were also swept off the roads in Jessamine County late Friday and early Saturday morning, but the occupants escaped safely in each instance.
Although the waters had receded some by late Saturday afternoon, several families of Tates Creek Estates said they were bracing for the possibility of more flooding.
The National Weather Service predicted a 50 percent chance of precipitation from showers and thunderstorms in the Lexington area Saturday night.
Betty Meece said Saturday was the first time her house had flooded.
"I've lived in this trailer park 40 years," she said. "They've just recently put in city sewers this year. It's never been this bad."
Meece said work on the sanitary sewers is ongoing, and she and several other residents questioned whether that might have contributed to the flooding.
Rupard said he does not think the project is a factor.
"It's just a low-lying area. It's just a flash rainfall," he said.
Barry and Cathy Stamper said they'd lived there 10 years and never had water come inside.
"Whatever's on the floor is ruined," Cathy Stamper said. "We're just stranded."