• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford avoids major flood damage

Flooding from the heavy rains that swept through Woodford County last week could have been a lot worse, according to Woodford Emergency Management (EM) Director Drew Chandler.

“I think some of the gaps (in the rain) and sunshine that we had really caused us to not have a significant flooding event, and a lot of the counties along the Ohio River haven’t been quite as fortunate,” Chandler said.

Chandler said in recent years, local governments took actions that helped cut flood-related problems in what could have been the worst “rain event” since August 2010.

“There had been improvements to drainage, so the water at Glenn’s Creek down in Millville, it got up to the road. But (with) the improvements by the (County) road department at the bridge, there was a little bit of rerouting of water through there, so it didn’t get into any homes that we’re aware of,” Chandler said.

In Versailles, using federal funds to buy out properties on Dan Court and Dan Drive eliminated five houses that would have been flooded and helped others who still live there, Chandler said.

“When there were no structures built, that made more room in the bucket for water, and the neighboring homes didn’t take on water like they used to,” he said.

Chandler said he and his three part-time deputies spent much of last week and weekend surveying flooded roads and other areas. Familiar sights included the basin in front of Daisy Hill Senior Living that “never seems to dry out,” Chandler said.

“There was a lot of water that ‘ponded’ around the county, and we would hope that those people (living nearby) would contact us with their damages, so we can evaluate if there’s a need to declare an emergency and be included in any federal aid moneys that become available,” Chandler said.

County Road Engineer Buan Smith said “pretty much all” county roads were threatened by high waters, which mostly manifested as water along the side of them. The biggest concerns were Browns Mill Road and Moores Mill Road, parts of both of which were shut down last Thursday. Monday, portions of Williams Lane and Paynes Mill were still flooded due to sinkholes being full, he said.

“We’ve had a little bit of erosion along the channel of that new bridge on Griers Creek, but it’s nothing that’s hurting the bridge itself,” Smith said

Chandler said his department wasn’t aware of any significant flooding damage to houses, but said at least one car didn’t fare so well.

“One person in particular Saturday decided to go around a barricade on Paynes Mill (Road) and lost their car,” said Woodford Road Engineer Buan Smith.

“Fortunately there was not rushing water, so there wasn’t an actual rescue operation. It was just getting (the driver) out of the vehicle,” Chandler said of the incident.

During a tour Sunday morning, Chandler came upon another close call on Newton Street in Midway. He’d come in behind Darlin’ Jean’s Apple Cobbler Café, but wasn’t happy with the vantage point, so he came around the other end of Newton Street from the other side of the railroad tracks.

“There was a young family at (Walter Bradley Jr. Park) looking at the water and they drove across the flooded Newton Street. … They, fortunately, did not get stuck. … (The driver) wasn’t from here, she had no concept of how deep that water could have been, didn’t think about her vehicle becoming buoyant and getting washed away. She had her kids in the car, so I think that was really an innocent, eye-opening experience for her,” Chandler said. “And that just goes to show you, as much as we put out messages like, ‘Turn around, don’t drown,’ we’re not hitting everybody with those safety message campaigns.”

Today, March 1, is the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week, and Chandler said his department is starting a social media campaign that he hopes people will share with their friends. They’re also working with the National Weather Service on a Kentucky River-related study designed to help forecast when roads like Shoreacres and Buck Run will be flooded. Chandler said similar studies have worked in other counties.

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