Smithland building up flood wall, businesses closing

SMITHLAND, KY — Gov. Matt Bevin declared a statewide emergency for Kentucky Monday afternoon because of flooding and damage across the commonwealth.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department was closed Monday because of flooding, which has closed roads.

In Smithland, where the Cumberland and Ohio River merge, the county is building its flood wall higher. Inmates from McCracken, Hopkins, and Christian County jails are building the flood wall.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet workers dropped off 5,000 tons of sand at the flood wall in Smithland. That sand will be used to build up the flood wall higher than they planned.

Smokey D’s restaurant has a front row view of the rising river. Their open sign is on and food is still on the grill.

“I’ve been here since May, so this is my first (flood),” said owner Justin Smith. “I guess I’m going to have to learn to plan for it now.”

He said the river  is usually several football fields away.

“A lot of homes are getting flooded. It’s coming up quick. Being able to get in and out of town, it’s going to be so limited,” Smith said. “It’s come up in spots quicker, it seems, than normal.”

He said staying open brings a sense of normality to the people in town, especially his regulars.

“The way we’ve got the wall built now, we should really be in good shape,” Smith said.

Inmates built what is called a honeycomb, which will make it easier to build up the floodwall. It’s a structure that looks like a honeycomb with holes in it that are filled with sand. It creates a strong barrier between the town and the river.

The Army Corps of Engineers provided the honeycombs.

Deputy Director of Livingston County Emergency Management Daniel Newcomb said they are building the wall higher. “We don’t want them to raise the water level, and us not be able to keep up with what they raised it to,” he said. “So, we are going ahead and preparing for higher water levels at this time.”

Smokey D’s will close after they got word that parts of U.S. 60 were going to close Monday night, blocking of most of their customers from the restaurant.

To see the latest on state roads closed by flooding in west Kentucky, click here.