Monday, March 3, 1997
Ky. death toll hits 9;
damage put at $51 million

The Cincinnati Enquirer

and The Associated Press

A second wave of massive flooding soaked rain-weary Kentuckians on Sunday and pushed rivers over their banks, sending hundreds of people fleeing for higher ground and isolating rural communities.

Deaths related to the weekend flooding rose to nine Sunday. The rains began without fanfare Friday night but pummeled the state relentlessly Saturday and early Sunday.

Officials in Louisville and Jefferson County said Sunday that 40,000 homes and businesses had been flooded. Damage was estimated at $51 million, Jefferson County Judge-executive Dave Armstrong said.

Kentucky State Police and Owen County authorities suspected - but were unable to confirm - two drowning deaths late Saturday night in the Perry Park area.

Officials think two people died after being trapped in a car by the rising Kentucky River around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

''They can't get to them to get them out,'' Monterey Fire Dispatcher Martha Brock said Sunday. ''The water keeps rising.''

State highway department workers were putting up barricades to block Ky. 355 between Moxley and Perry Park, when a vehicle went around the barricade, ''and we believe went right into the backwater from the Kentucky River,'' said Trooper David Stevens, public affairs officer with the state police's LeGrange post.

Neither the car nor any victims have been recovered, he said.

Police said the river's current is very swift, which prevented police to search the water. ''You can't even get a boat in there,'' Trooper Stevens said.

Elsewhere in Kentucky, a man drowned in Clark County while kayaking on a swollen creek on Sunday. And an elderly man suffered a heart attack Sunday in Cynthiana as he tried to push his pickup truck out of floodwaters, police reported.

One day after driving rain, high winds and tornadoes pounded Kentucky, record flooding inundated wide swaths along the Licking River in north-central Kentucky on Sunday. Meanwhile, people living along other Kentucky rivers braced for the worst flooding since the 1960s.

Gov. Paul Patton declared a state of emergency for all of Kentucky's 120 counties Saturday night. At least 200 National Guardsmen were pressed into duty to provide support in flood-stricken areas.