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Fulton County flooding at historic levels

Fulton County flooding at historic levels

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 9:02 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

Fulton County flooding at historic levels | Fulton County flooding at historic levels

Inmates from the Fulton County Detention Center in Hickman loaded large sandbags throughout the afternoon Monday
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Torrential rains continue to pound southwest Kentucky, and at least one comparison is being made to the catastrophic floods of 1937.
“Based on current National Weather Service forecasts, we are anticipating near-record flood levels in many parts of the Memphis District,” Col. Vernie Reichling, the Corps’ Memphis District commander said Monday. “We have not seen levels predicted this high since 1937.”
Fulton County officials continue to monitor the river gauge in Cairo, Ill., just north of Hickman.
“That’s the measuring stick we use,” David Weatherly told The Messenger Monday night.
He is the chairman of the Levee Board in Fulton County and was one of many Fulton County officials monitoring weather conditions. He said preliminary forecasts for the Cairo river gauge called for the river to crest at 58.5 feet.
Weatherly said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to study its rainfall models and is continuing to adjust the river crest forecast, and he said, “that’s a concern.”
He explained he believed the Cairo river gauge could handle a 65-foot crest without it damaging the Fulton County levee but, if the water remained at high levels, it could be a problem. Weatherly said if the water level at Cairo remained at 60 feet or above for a month or more, the levee would become saturated and could weaken to the point it could break.
“That’s a big concern … to have a high water event of that magnitude,” he said.
Fulton County Judge/ Executive David Gallagher has maintained a constant vigil on the storm damage.
He and other officials met at 9 a.m. today to discuss flood preparation plans.
“We’ve been blessed so far,” Gallagher said early today, saying his county avoided destructive winds and heavy rains overnight.
He explained that strong storms apparently skipped over Fulton County and slammed into Calloway County, where strong winds and heavy rains caused numerous problems in the Murray, Ky., area.
“We’re not planning on evacuations at this point,” Gallagher told The Messenger, but he said that could change if weather conditions worsened. “Every inch of rain … it’s got nowhere to go.”
He said weather forecasts are calling for more strong storms through the weekend.
“We didn’t have much rain last night,” Fulton County Sheriff Bobby Hopper said early today. “Right at this moment, we’re doing pretty good.”
There is a chance Highway 94 (also known as the Great River Road) could be flooded if the county gets much more rainfall, and that hasn’t happened since the road was rebuilt and raised years ago
The Memphis U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office has begun readiness plans to operate the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway. A decision was expected to be made by 1 p.m. today to exercise the next steps to use the floodway component.
The floodway is part of a flood risk management plan for the lower Mississippi River designed to minimize damage to property, structures and to help save lives from historic flood levels  on the lower Mississippi River.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.26.11

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