Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Record Rainfall Brings Flash Floods

By Bennett Haeberle, WDRB-TV Fox 41 News

Thousands of residents in the Louisville area were still without power Tuesday night, as damage estimates from flood waters began to pour in.

The rain storm arrived between 8 and 9 a.m. Tuesday, and in that time, dumped seven inches of rain in the area – saturating homes, cars and government buildings.

Tuesday's rainfall caused damage that could take months to replace and cost millions of dollars, according to estimates from city officials.

In the heart of downtown Louisville, low-lying intersections resembled lakes and side streets filled with trucks forging through standing water.

"It looks like a national disaster hit us. Everything is flooded out." said Roger Powers, a west Louisville resident.

Seven inches of rain that fell in about an hour is the most the city has ever seen in that amount of time.

"This is a setback," said Craig Buthod, library director.

At the Louisville Free Public Library, cars in the parking garage were submerged and ruined, inside between 10,000 and 20,000 books were lost – saturated with water.

The building's basement held anywhere from three to eight feet of water following the storm. One thing that doesn't translate to television is the stagnant smell.

"This is ugly water. It's not pure rain water. It's back up from the sewer," said Buthod.

Computers for a new branch library in Newburg were also destroyed. The library's director says the cost of replacement will be high.

"It will be in excess of a million I can tell you that," said Buthod.

At the city's animal shelter: casualties. A dog and a litter of kittens drowned from high water.

"Even if you had a little bit of water they were unable to survive," said Gilles Meloche, Director of Metro Animal Services.

Volunteers and staff helped transport hundreds of animals to the fair grounds, where they will remain temporarily.

"We're asking folks to use your head, be smart," said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.

Mayor Abramson said city officials would begin a closer survey of the damage on Wednesday.

"We got pushed out, we got flooded so it's chest high up there," said Nathan Moore, Red Cross shelter.

Red Cross shelters will remain open for those like Nathan Moore and his four children, who were forced out of their home.

"I don't know what the next step is, take it one day at a time I guess," said Moore.

Earlier Tuesday, 50 people had to be rescued from high water at the University of Louisville, some who were pregnant or had disabilities.

– St. Mary's and Elizabeth's Hospital also had to be evacuated.

The storm has affected not only people but the city and its resources.

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