Cleanup begins as water rises

LIBERTY — When Clark Durham finished moving stock to higher shelves at his auto-parts store about 3 p.m. Sunday, there wasn't even any water in his parking lot.

Water from the Green River, 500 yards behind the store, had never gotten deeper than 2 feet along that stretch of U.S. 127 in Liberty, so he figured the inventory was safe.

But at 6 p.m., his daughter called to say there was 5 feet of water in the store.

"I know flash floods happen fast, but that's the fastest I've ever seen one," Durham said Monday as employees and friends pitched in to remove ruined goods and mud from the store.

It was a scene being repeated at dozens of businesses and several homes along the bypass in Liberty. The city was one of the spots hit hardest by flooding from a weekend deluge that topped 10 inches in some areas of the state.

There was widespread damage in other counties as well, however, along with some close calls. Emergency responders rescued dozens of people from vehicles stranded on flooded roads and from houses cut off by high waters across southern and Central Kentucky.

A night in the attic

In southern Jessamine County, Freda Trimble spent Sunday night in the attic of her home on Camp Daniel Boone Road near the Kentucky River as water submerged the lower quarters of her house. County emergency workers rescued her about 10 a.m. Monday.

"We bought the house 12 years ago, and we have never seen it like this," Trimble said. She said she had lost everything in the house, plus a Mercury Sable and a Plymouth Voyager.

A granddaughter and neighbor retrieved some of Trimble's 11 dogs by boat. The dogs were so exhausted from swimming that they refused to walk and had to be carried.

Nursing homes evacuated

Elsewhere in Jessamine County, more than 60 people from a nursing home and assisted-living apartments spent Sunday night in a Nicholasville shelter, said John V. Carpenter, Jessamine County emergency management director.

About 40 residents and six staff people were evacuated from Rose Terrace, a nursing home on North Second Street, as a precaution after water threatened to come into the home, Carpenter said.

At Creekside Senior Apartments, also on Second Street, 21 people were evacuated, but they returned to their apartments Sunday night, Carpenter said.

He estimated that 12 to 15 families decided on their own to evacuate Tates Creek Estates, a mobile home park in northeastern Jessamine County that often floods.

Evacuations continued Monday. Jessamine County fire-rescue crews spent much of the day getting about 20 people out from Dix Drive, a road along the Kentucky River near High Bridge. Some residents left on their own.

Authorities evacuated about 10 people by boat from homes on the Mercer County side of the Kentucky River, said Jon Jones, emergency management director for Mercer County.

Church gets drenched

Near the northern Garrard County community of Buckeye, members of Bethel Christian Church piled pews, songbooks, carpet and a sound system onto the front lawn.

Floodwaters from nearby Back Creek came into the church, which sits in a valley off Ky. 1131. The church also flooded in 1955 and 1996.

Pastor Dale Ballinger said the congregation intends to clean out the mud and hold services in the building again.

"They're pretty persistent," Ballinger said. "They'll do everything they can to get back in here."

Watching the creek overflow

Police taped off a section of a Bourbon County street Monday as water from a nearby creek overflowed into driveways. Unable to return to her trailer, Carol Moore of Millersburg waited on a neighbor's porch Monday afternoon. Earlier, neighbors had used a boat to rescue Moore's 96-year-old father from an apartment on the street.

Liberty hit hard

In Liberty, employees and volunteers spent Monday carrying waterlogged carpet, soggy clothes, warped doors, muddy equipment and sodden food from restaurants, insurance offices, convenience stores, a supermarket and other businesses along U.S. 127, piling them in parking lots to be hauled away.

Officials said the flood had caused millions of dollars in damage in Liberty and Casey County.

Liberty Mayor Steve Sweeney estimated that 80 percent of the businesses along the bypass had been damaged.

In addition, an estimated 25 homes were damaged so badly they might be uninhabitable, said Rick Wesley, Casey County's emergency management director.

It wasn't just that the county got a lot of rainfall, Wesley said, but also that it came very quickly — 9.39 inches in 48 hours. The river just couldn't carry it away fast enough.

At The Village Restaurant, employees had tried Sunday to keep out the advancing flood by wading through the parking lot to unclog a drain and stuffing cardboard under the kitchen door.

"It didn't do us any good," said Donna Rig ney, who owns the restaurant with her husband, John. Water got more than 5 feet deep in the dining room.

Rigney and employees and friends spent Monday deciding what could be cleaned and salvaged and what couldn't.

"All you can do is grab a hold of your bootstraps and pull 'em up and go at it," Rigney said. "This is my life."

Junior True and his son, Michael, were at their plumbing and electrical-supply business on the Liberty bypass Sunday afternoon, trying to move stock out of reach of the coming flood, when the water came up quickly.

True, 80, said the water was up to his chest and would have been too swift outside the store for him to walk through.

He and his son stood on a 10-foot ladder until volunteers came by boat to take them to safety.

"I was getting a little chilly" before the boat showed up, True said.

Water damages UK buildings

In Lexington, eight buildings on the University of Kentucky campus, including the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house, had some water issues.

UK spokeswoman Gail Hairston said there was significant water damage at the fine arts center, and some musical instruments and costumes were damaged.

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