TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Jeff Noble / staff writer
Wednesday’s flooding in parts of Knox and Laurel counties came from a storm system that slowed down and dumped a lot of rain during the early morning hours, according to the National Weather Service.
“The heaviest rain was concentrated in southern Clay County, where the radar estimated three to around five inches fell during that time. Areas near the Knox County-Clay County border had an estimated three to four-and-a-half inches of rain fall. And along the border of Laurel and Rockcastle counties, the radar estimated an average of two to three inches of rain,” said John Pelton, a meteorologist with the Weather Service Office in Jackson.
In Laurel County, the problem was flooding on some roads, as well as culverts.
“We had about 20 state and county roads flooded in the county. They were covered with water, and some are still flooded as of right now. We’ve also had some culverts washed out and some driveways damaged near the Pittsburg area and near the Rockcastle County line,” stated Albert “Abby” Hale, the county’s Emergency Management Director in a phone interview late Wednesday afternoon.
Hale said he was headed out to those areas where the culverts and driveways were affected by Wednesday’s heavy rains. He added no homes were damaged as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, and was expecting the water would go down on most of the roads overnight.
One emergency response group from the Tri County region was called out to a part of southeastern Kentucky affected by the flooding.
Kentucky Emergency Management spokesperson Buddy Rogers confirmed Wednesday that the Laurel County Swift Water Rescue Team was sent out to help assist with rescue efforts in Clay County.
“We helped coordinate that effort with their assistance,” Rogers said in a phone interview from Frankfort.
According to the Associated Press, some residents in the Brightshade community located southeast of Manchester had to be moved out of their homes when they became stranded by high water. Clay County Emergency Management Director David Watson said six or seven residents were rescued from their homes as the water level was rising.
Watson added no one was hurt, and that the county was setting up a shelter for residents who can’t get to their homes because of flooded roads.
Harlan and Owsley counties were declared local states of emergency Wednesday as a result of the flooding, with Harlan County having several mudslides and flooded roads.
Rogers said declaring those counties local states of emergency “allows them to free up monetary resources, which helps them make immediate responses and repairs.”
Wednesday’s wet weather also set a record at the London-Corbin airport. The Weather Service in Jackson reported 1.70 inches fell at the airport on Wednesday. It broke the previous record rainfall for April 17 of 1.58 inches. That was set in 2003.
The climate data for the London-Corbin Airport dates back to 1954.
Another round of wind, rain and storms is expected late Thursday. Strong winds averaging 30 miles per hour will fly ahead of a sharp cold front into Kentucky. That will bring more rain to the region, with the Weather Service saying most of the rain will be from 12 midnight to 12 noon Friday.
“This cold front will be moving faster across the state, and we’re expecting one-third to one-half inch of rain on average in the region Thursday night into Friday. There could be a strong scattered storm, but the severe focus will be west of I-65, in the western half of Kentucky on Thursday into early Friday,” Pelton pointed out.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.