Gov. Beshear visits victims, troops in flooded regions

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Steve Beshear, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, visits Kentucky National Guardsmen in Benton Kentucky. The Guardsmen have been activated in response to the flooding in Western Kentucky.(US Army photo by Sgt.1st Class Marvin Cornell, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky National Guard)

Click here for more photos of Gov. Beshear’s visit.

Frankfort, Ky.  (May 3, 2011) – At the direction of Governor Steve Beshear, nearly 600 Kentucky National Guard troops are assisting flood relief efforts in six western Kentucky counties.  Floodwaters continue to rise along the lower Ohio and Mississippi rivers, threatening homes and businesses.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects the rivers will reach crest in most locations in Kentucky on Thursday and Friday.

“I appreciate the ongoing efforts by our local, state and federal responders to continue to keep our families and communities safe as these waters continue to rise,” said Gov. Beshear.  “This flood will have long-term effects even after the waters recede, and we stand ready to assist in every step of recovery.”

The Governor visited flooded areas on Tuesday, his second trip to the flood zone in less than a week.  National Guard troops are performing a variety of functions in flooded counties, including security patrols, evacuation support, sandbagging operations, communications and logistics and aviation support.

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Fulton County Judge Executive David Gallagher, Gov. Steve Beshear, and Director of Kentucky Emergency Management, Brig. Gen. John Heltzel discuss flood levels in Hickman Kentucky on May 3 2011. (US Army photo by Sgt.1st Class Marvin Cornell, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky National Guard)

Approximately 3,800 Kentucky residents have evacuated their homes since flooding began.  Four Red Cross shelters housed 37 people last night in four locations; a total of six Red Cross shelters are operating statewide.

Engineers and emergency response teams are monitoring the Hickman and Smithland levees around the clock for signs of failure or breach.

Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday in the central portion of the state produced one to four inches of rain, adding runoff to regional lakes and tributaries.  The additional runoff may cause minor to moderate flooding in the Green River, Licking River, Rolling Fork River and Salt River.  No additional evacuations are expected as a result of this recent rainfall.

Historic lake levels have been reported across the Commonwealth, and some controlled releases are underway at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.   Water has begun coming through the emergency spillway at Taylorsville Lake, but no impact to homes or businesses is expected.

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Gov. Steve Beshear visits displaced families at a flood relief shelter in Paducah, Kentucky on May 3 2011. (US Army photo by Sgt.1st Class Marvin Cornell, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky National Guard)

According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), approximately 285 roads are closed closures affecting approximately 60 counties.  Because of the rapidly changing nature of flooding, road closure information can quickly become outdated. Before traveling to an affected area, check with local authorities. Traffic information for interstates, parkways and major routes is available at 511.ky.gov or by calling 511.  In addition, KYTC has a map on its website (www.transportation.ky.gov) indicating road closures.

Last week, the Governor requested a major disaster declaration from the President of the United States for Individual Assistance, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation and Small Business Administration disaster loans.  In addition, Gov. Beshear requested a disaster declaration for Kentucky’s farm families from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and directed the temporary suspension of restrictions on certain motor carriers and utility vehicles delivering disaster relief supplies.

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Brig. Gen. Heltzel, Gov. Steve Beshear, and Fulton County officials examine a Hydratrek vehicle being used in flood relief efforts in Hickman,Kentucky on May 3, 2011. (US Army photo by Sgt.1st Class Marvin Cornell, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky National Guard)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives continue damage assessments.  The federal teams work alongside representatives from Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM), small business administration and local emergency management.  These joint assessment teams will assess all damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes in each county with a disaster declaration in order to calculate the magnitude of loss.  The total assessments will help determine the level of federal disaster relief.

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