Flooding at McDowell’s Lakeview Cabins, across from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, has prompted concerns for the safety of residents.
The flooding on Lincoln Farm Road became an issue around April 25, when several inches of rain fell over LaRue County.
Although water levels in the small pond in front of the cabins have risen in the past, owner Gary McDowell said he has never “seen it like this.”
According to McDowell the driveway was impassible, with over 3 feet of water on the road; many residents were unable to leave in their vehicles.
A private drive, small store and several storage units were also affected by the flooding.
According to McDowell, water runs off the hill of the ALES property and flows to a pipe that is directly connected to his pond. After an excessive amount of water is pumped into the pond, it eventually overflows and travels across the driveway into another low-lying area. In the most recent case, the flooding was so severe that it filled both the pond, the other low lying area and two driveways, McDowell’s and Gary Ray’s.
“When I built my house, I said it will never get that high and it (water) was three foot over there,” Ray said, referring to his driveway.
According to McDowell three residents chose to leave during flooding because they couldn’t leave freely without the access of a four-wheel drive vehicle. Stakes with brightly colored ribbon lined the driveway to mark the boundaries of the invisible drive.
Resident Steve Hessig said he hasn’t been able to leave since May 2. “It shocked me because this never acted like it was going to flood ... I hope it don’t happen again.”
McDowell said Jerry Rock approached him May 2 with an idea to fix the problem. With Rock’s tractor and David Brown’s piping, they devised a plan to pump water from the pond. A six-inch hose was put in place to transfer water from the pond to a low lying wooded area across the hill, owned by Junior Bloyd and McDowell.
McDowell and Rock swapped shifts of staying up nights with the tractor to insure that the operation ran smoothly. McDowell said the tractor takes “$500-600 a day” to operate due to fuel expenses. Shortly after the installation of the pumping system, the rain returned, leaving the already flooded area in desperate need for relief.
According to Chris Jackson, with LaRue County Emergency Management, a call came through Judge Executive Tommy Turner’s office asking for assistance at the Lakeview Cabin area. After Judge Turner’s approval, Jackson contacted Kentucky Emergency Management Operations and they made it possible, through FEMA, to acquire a large pump capable of transferring 5,000 gallons per minute. “It became a matter of public safety when residents weren’t able to leave homes due to high water,” said Jackson.
From midnight to 5 a.m., on May 3, firefighters from LaRue County, Hodgenville, Buffalo and Magnolia fire departments, volunteered their time to piece together a 12-inch pipe to alleviate the flooding issue at the cabins.
The pump moved about two and a half feet of water in a 12-hour period. Jackson said that the pump would stay in place until the water in catch basins returned to a normal level.
Although McDowell is pleased with the response to a need, he is left with severe damage.
According to McDowell he had just placed new gravel on the drive, that is now washed away and the pond was fully stocked with fish, which are more than likely gone. Deep ruts also line the property, which once were home to a neatly trimmed lawn.
“I’ve got major damage,” said McDowell. “It’s going to cost thousands ... my number one goal is to be clean and neat and all this mud and water is kind of depressing.”