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Death Toll in Kentucky Flooding Reaches 8

By | September 25, 2006

Flooding in Kentucky brought on by heavy rains over the weekend that caused at least eight deaths continued to subside, though some residents remained shut out of their homes due to high water as late as Sunday.

At least six of those deaths, including a father and his infant daughter, were related to vehicles stuck or skidding in high water. Portions of dozens of state roads remained flooded Sunday morning, including a nearly two-mile stretch of the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway east of Lexington, state transportation officials said.

“It looks like everything’s kind of quieting down, and things are being handled on the local level right now,” said Buddy Rogers, a spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management in Frankfort.

On Sunday afternoon, several people were bailing water out of their cars at a Louisville apartment complex where 100 people had to be evacuated during Friday night’s storms.

Karen Cooper, 61, said she waded through waist-deep water to her car during the storm at The Crossings at Bent Creek.

“I looked at my car and it was just swimming inside,” Cooper said. “I was shocked. I’ve never been in a flood before.”

Yvette Frank, 45, another resident who has lived in the apartments for 14 years, said she has never seen a flood like this weekend’s. She said her son came in late Friday night and asked her why she hadn’t moved her car.

“I had no idea it was raining that hard,” she said “I told him to go move the car. He came back. He said, ‘I can’t move the car.”‘

The National Weather Service was reporting most areas of the state had received at least five inches of rain over the weekend, with isolated areas getting close to 10 inches.

In Hardin County, phone service was restored after much of the county was shut down from the storms. Officials said water levels are dropping, but nine families remained in hotel rooms Sunday morning after being displaced by storms.

“Our disaster assessment teams are out now going and checking on some of the areas” where people were evacuated from their homes and apartments, said Sharon Thompson, manager of the Hardin/Larue County Red Cross. No one has reported to a shelter set up in Elizabethtown since around noon on Saturday, officials said.

The flooding was the cause of at least eight deaths, including a father and his infant daughter who suffered fatal injuries when their truck skidded into floodwaters off Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown.

Christopher Richardson, 31, of Hodgenville and his 1-year-old daughter, Hannah Richardson, were killed. Richardson died at the scene, and his daughter died at a Louisville hospital later on Saturday, said Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Gayle Norris. Norris said the infant’s death was consistent with drowning.

Two women were killed in Lexington after trying to cross a flooded roadway early Saturday morning. Lauren Fannin, 25, of Lexington and Lindsay Harp, 25, of Frankfort, were pulled under by the current from a flooded creek and swept away, said Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Mat Ragland.

In Jessamine County, the body of Crystal Cook, 32, of Nicholasville, was found in her overturned pickup truck, Coroner Bobbye Ballard said. Ballard said Cook was driving through high water on Little Hickman Road when it was swept up in floodwaters.

The body of Rebekah Gresham, 29, of Waddy, was found in her vehicle, which was partially submerged in a swollen creek in southwestern Franklin County, according to state police. Juanita Curneal, 66, of Nortonville, died after her car hydroplaned on wet pavement Friday morning in Hopkins County. State police said she was thrown from her vehicle after the car struck a guardrail. Ronnie Gardner, 59, of Hazel, became trapped when he drove across a flooded road in Calloway County in western Kentucky, and later died at a hospital from his injuries, the sheriff’s department said.

About 200 people had to be evacuated Saturday from a music and arts festival in central Kentucky, with more than 20 cars completely immersed in water. Brenda Cashel, owner of the Mercer County farm where the Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival was held, said Sunday morning the water had subsided enough for people to return to get their vehicles.

“Just about the time the emergency people were finishing up their evacuations, the water had gotten low,” Cashel said.

She said some people spent the night at the farm, but that was by choice. Several of the cars that were underwater were drivable, she said, but didn’t know if any others were destroyed.

LG&E which has about 1 million electric customers in Kentucky, said in a statement that all of its customers had their power restored by Sunday morning.


Associated Press writers Malcolm Knox, Bruce Schreiner and Will Graves in Louisville and Jeff McMurray in Lexington contributed to this report.

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