Crews prep to protect Paducah from Ohio River flooding
PADUCAH—At a news conference held this morning at City Hall, Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton and McCracken County Judge Executive Van Newberry provided an overview of the response to the recent flash flooding and the rising water levels on the Ohio River.
The City and County have declared States of Emergency. For a copy of the Emergency Declaration, click here. The flooding is forecast to exceed the flood levels in 1950 which is the last time the Ohio River approached a floodstage of 53 feet. The current forecast has the Ohio River at Paducah cresting at 55 feet on May 3.
Public safety is top priority
After a joint city-wide meeting earlier Monday morning, City Engineer-Punlic Works Director Rick Murphy and his teams, as well as area fire departments and police are working together to ensure public safety and to get the floodgates in place. Mayor Paxton stresses patience saying, ‘We are going to do everything we can to keep the public safe.”
Floodgates being installed, trash pickup suspended
Crews are working to install 20 of Paducah's 47 floodgates today. According to Murphy, all of the gates will be installed by mid-week. Murphy says, “We are putting all our resources on this catastrophe.”
Water Street and connecting streets between Second Street and the floodwall will not be accessible to the general public while the floodgates are being installed. For safety, the City asks that sightseers stay back from the heavy equipment and work crews. Refuse collection in the City of Paducah has been suspended until the floodgates are installed.
Emergency Operations Center activated as some areas evacuated
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Coleman Road has been activated. Evacuations in the County have occurred on Noble Road and West Hovecamp. The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees at Margaret Hank Cumberland Presbyterian Church. McCracken County Emergency Management Director Paul Carter stresses the importance of staying informed since additional severe weather and flash flooding are expected over the next few days.
Crews working to keep waters out of Convention Center
The rising level on the Ohio River means that the Julian Carroll Convention Center and the Expo Center are in jeopardy of flooding. Murphy says, “We don’t want those investments to be sacrificed due to flooding.” Murphy says crews with Jim Smith Contracting are constructing a steel barrier and extending the levee around the facilities to protect them.
Quilters scrambling to move parts of show
As 30,000 - 35,000 quilters prepare to make their way to Paducah for the show, organizers for the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show and Contest are in the process of moving the classes, vendors, and exhibits that would have been held in the Convention and Expo Centers to other locations in Paducah. Organizer Bonnie Browning says, “When we started yesterday we weren’t sure how it would work out. However, we did not have to cancel one single thing.” The vendors, quilts, and activities scheduled for the Convention/Expo Centers will be held at First Baptist Church and the former Office Max and Circuit City buildings next to Kentucky Oaks Mall. Shuttles will run between all venues.