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Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘ED WHITFIELD

the morning cram [The do, or do not. There is no try edition]

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The Pentagon finds fighting two wars at once can be tricky…

NPR reports military officials are revisiting the policy which states we could fight multiple wars at the same time and win. Ask any sports fan, split squad games never pack the same punch.

Kentucky~   Murray State’s on a roll! USEC may be leaving Paducah. More budget cuts are on their way.  Beshear really wants some gambling money.  Williams sounds off on Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth.

Tennessee~  Judges may no longer give to political campaigns.

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the morning cram [pawpaw edition]

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The Pawpaw: North America’s forgotten fruit.

NPR reports a long lost tropical-like fruit which grows in our temperate climate is a little known treat found throughout 26 states.

Kentucky~ The Paducah Renaissance Alliance Director quits after two months on the job.   A Caldwell County judge declares a mistrial in the Allison murder case. Rand Paul is making the rounds in the Purchase Region today.  We all need a little help from our friends, says Todd P’Pool.  An accrediting body takes a long, hard look at National College. Senator Paul wants to chat with other Senators about pipeline regulations.

Tennessee~ State Senator Kyle says tweak the lottery, don’t steal from scholarship funds.

the morning cram [poppy season edition]

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While Afghan officials make efforts to fight drug production (a la 11-ton opium bonfire), economic struggles feed the growth of the industry.

NPreports Afghan farmers and businessmen understand the financial encouragement to stay away from the multi-billion dollar industry that pumps heroin into veins all around the world comes from US aid will eventually run out.

Kentucky~ Paducah is working on plans to extend a greenway trail. SIU students are helping with urban renewal in Paducah. Hazel wants their largest antique mall back open. The Boy’s Nation Senators have been chosen. Rep Whitfield is delaying EPA regulations.

Tennessee~ Some progress might be made on Clarksville’s Liberty Park…maybe. All state legislation is now available in full-text online.

Representative Whitfield Issues Statement on Expediting FEMA

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FROM ED WHITFIELD’S OFFICE:

Whitfield Calls Upon FEMA to Expedite Emergency Declaration to President

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01) today spoke with Richard Serino, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and urged Serino and FEMA to do whatever possible to advance Governor Steve Beshear’s request to the President for a declaration of a major disaster for all of Kentucky.

On April 28, Whitfield, after having viewed flood and storm damage across portions of the First Congressional District, led the Kentucky delegation in sending a letter to the President supporting the Governor’s request for a disaster declaration. Rep. Whitfield has continued to follow reports of rising river levels and, on the heels of the Army Corps of Engineers blasting a levy on the Mississippi River to relieve swelling river levels, Whitfield felt it necessary to call on FEMA and urge them to advance the disaster request.

“Deputy Administrator Serino was helpful in updating me on the process of the disaster declaration request,” said Whitfield following the call. “He informed me that FEMA has received the final pieces of information from the State and will now begin advancing the disaster declaration request through the necessary channels. It is my hope that this request would reach the President as quickly as possible so that local officials can have the assurance of federal support to make our damaged communities whole once more. I will continue to monitor and follow this situation closely and do whatever possible to assist Kentucky residents.”

Written by Angela Hatton

May 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Flood Recovery Efforts in the Four Rivers Region

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Please check back here often, we’ll continue to update this page as more information comes in.

Submit your photos!
We’re gathering a collection of listener-submitted photos of flooding in the Four Rivers Region.  If you have photos you’d like us to add to this gallery, please send them to msu.wkmsnews@murraystate.edu – along with a caption and your name so we can credit you. Many thanks to the photographers for sharing these photos! View them here.

April/May 2011 Flood Overview:

Normal Ohio River Swelling Expected (May 31, 2011)

Heavy rains to the north over the past several days are affecting levels along the lower Ohio River this week. National Weather Service officials say the waters are expected to go just above flood stage in some places, but the swelling is “nothing out of the ordinary.” River levels at Brookport Dam are just below 38 feet, above the minor flood stage. The Ohio River there is expected to crest in a few more inches by Thursday. At Cairo, levels are expected to breach the Moderate flood stage, cresting Thursday at 47-and-a-half feet. Currently levels are just over a foot below that mark.

State Funds for Flood Recovery (May 30, 2011)

Many area counties are eligible to receive state funds to help pay for clean-up after heavy rains and flooding during the past two months. 26 Kentucky counties will collect up to $30,000 dollars of a total $780,000 dollars in state funds set aside for environmental remediation. The Murray Ledger & Times reports Gov. Steve Beshear made the announcement Friday that grants will assist counties in disposing of solid waste related to flooding.

June 1 is Deadline for Disaster Food Stamps (May 30, 2011)

Wednesday, June 1, is the last day for residents of Dyer, Lake, Obion, and Stewart counties to apply for disaster food stamps. The four were affected by recent flooding. The food stamps have been issued since May 23. The benefits represent up to a one-month allotment and can be used for up to 90 days at any authorized grocery retailer. The food stamps are part of the USDA-approved Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Disaster Recovery Funds, Kentucky and Tennessee (May 27, 2011)

An amended disaster declaration by President Obama makes 70 Kentucky counties eligible for federal farm service emergency assistance. Loans are available to those who sustained losses from severe storms, tornadoes and flooding since April 22. Applications for physical and production loss loans will extend through January. The newly added counties include all counties in the Purchase and Pennyrile regions.

Tennesseans who register for FEMA assistance can also apply for Small Business Administration recovery loans. Low-interest SBA disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to qualified homeowners to repair or replace damaged real estate. In addition, $40,000 may be available to homeowners and renters to repair or replace damaged personal property. A presidential disaster declaration makes federal funding available to residents of Lake, Obion, and Stewart counties.

Illinois Governor Requests Disaster Status

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Tuesday, May 24 asked President Obama to declare several southern Illinois counties major disaster areas to help with flood recovery. The list includes Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Massac, Pope and Pulaski counties. Damage assessments by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and FEMA found 109 homes destroyed. About 850 more sustained some kind of damage. More than 600 businesses saw major to moderate damage. If the request gains approval, affected people could apply for grants and low-interest Small Business Administration loans.

Kentucky Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Residents and business owners in several western Kentucky counties who lost livelihood due to severe weather may seek Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet made the announcement today. The assistance is available to residents or businesses from Crittenden, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Marshall, McCracken, Webster and Union counties affected by severe weather from April 22 through May 20. Farmers and self-employed people who are normally not eligible for unemployment benefits may also qualify. The application deadline is June 24.

For more information about services, visit www.educationcabinet.ky.gov or www.workforce.ky.gov.

FEMA Approves $5m for TN

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved over $5 million in aid to Tennessee following severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding over the past month. More than 8,100 Tennesseans have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance. $3.5 million of that aid will be allocated to cover housing assistance, almost $900,000 for disaster-related needs like funeral costs, and over $600,000 for low-interest Small Business Administration loans. FEMA says the payout comes after its agents inspected over 4,400 damaged homes and property statewide.

FEMA and KYEM

Currently, FEMA and KyEM have teamed up to examine damages to both public infrastructure and private residences. To date, the FEMA/state teams have conducted state and local government assessments in 53 Kentucky counties and individual/household assessments in 11 counties. These assessments involve the teams inspecting damaged areas, documenting the damages and meeting with local officials in western Kentucky.

Based on the results of these assessments, FEMA has added 11 Kentucky counties to the recent federal disaster declaration.

FEMA and KYEM are asking all residents with property damage to document the damage with photos, save repair receipts and report any damages to their local county emergency manager. For additional information about the flooding in west Kentucky, please view www.fema.gov and www.kyem.ky.gov.

Disaster Recovery Centers in Tennessee

Disaster Recovery Centers are open in Lake and Obion counties to help individuals and businesses affected by the recent floods, tornadoes and severe storms. The Lake County location is at the National Guard Armory on State Route 21E in Tiptonville, and the Obion County location, at 221 North Broadway in Obion. FEMA and other agency representatives are on-hand to explain disaster assistance programs and help with assistance applications. Federal funding is available to individuals who sustained losses caused by severe weather and flooding beginning April 19. See individual counties below for details.

Public Protection Cabinet

As floodwaters recede in western Kentucky, homeowners are reminded that furnaces, water heaters, electric panels and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks that have been underwater may need to be inspected after repairs are complete.

For a list of certified electrical inspectors, homeowners and business owners can call 502-573-1797. For a list of active electrical inspectors by county, visit http://dhbc.ky.gov/bce/ei.htm. The Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction may be contacted at 502-573-0365 to answer questions relating to permitting, inspection and licensure requirements.

Kentucky National Guard

The Kentucky National Guard is working to wind down operations in western Kentucky. Guardsmen have been helping emergency officials with  tasks like security patrols, evacuation missions, floodwall surveillance, damage assessment, sandbagging operations, and transportation of essential personnel and supplies via high-axle tactical vehicles.

For more flood relief photos and videos visit the Kentucky National Guard Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/kyngpao/sets/72157626591744530/

You can see more at http://kentuckyguard.com. You can also reach them on Facebook at Kentucky National Guard.

Kentucky Transportation

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has received a number of reports of citizens placing construction debris from flood damaged homes on state right of way. Highway crews cannot pick up construction debris or other storm/flood debris. Construction debris placed along roadways creates a safety hazard for motorists and an obstruction for highway crews. As an agency, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet appreciates the difficulties flood victims are facing right now. However, debris from flood-damaged homes cannot be placed on state right of way.

Highway crews are still making repairs, as well as clearing mud, driftwood, and other debris at some of these locations that are listed open. Motorists should be alert for lane restrictions that will be required as crews go about their work.

For road closures and conditions, please visit www.511.ky.gov, or call 511.

Food Donations

West Kentucky Allied Services, Inc. are accepting donations of nonperishable food to provide relief for flood victims in the local area. Food donations can be dropped off at our office locations in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall, and McCracken counties. WKAS is working with the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and area churches to distribute the food to those in need. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm. For more information or if you know someone in need of assistance contact Tony Dowdy at 1-800-294-2731.

Property Damage

Emergency officials strongly encourage residents who have suffered property damage to notify their local emergency director so those damages can be added to countywide totals. Residents are also encouraged to take photos of damage to homes or businesses because of storms or flooding, and to keep any receipts for repairs. Click here to find your local emergency management director.

Monitor River and Lake Levels

See satellite photos of flooding in the region from NASA.

Please visit http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lmk to monitor river and lake levels throughout Kentucky. You may also sign up for the U.S. Geological Society’s (USGS) Water Alerts, an application that allows you to receive updates at any of the sites where USGS collects real-time water information. Daily or hourly updates are sent via e-mail or text messages when the current conditions meet or surpass a threshold of concern that you determine. Sign up for USGS Water Alert at http://water.usgs.gov/wateralert.

You can also watch KYEM’s severe weather page, visit: http://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ky.php?x=1

Additional information and notices can also be found at www.kyem.ky.gov/aprilsevereweather . There you can also direct link to a new open facebook group where users can join. This is a dedicated social media site offering disaster specific information, links, photos and videos.

Illinois Disaster Loan Program

Southern Illinois residents, businesses and farmers affected by flooding may be able to take advantage of the state’s disaster loan program. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says loans are available to qualified applicants through the Illinois Disaster Recovery program. The interest on loans obtained through the program is capped at 3%, which are lent through participating banks. Flood victims who expect reimbursement from insurance can take up to a year to pay off the loans. Others have up to five years.

Here’s a helpful link: 10 Important Calls to Make after Flood Damage

West Kentucky Disaster Recovery Fund

Read more about the Fund.

In response to the recent flooding in our area, the Community Foundation of West Kentucky has set up the West Kentucky Disaster Recovery Fund. This unrestricted fund will provide grants to nonprofit agencies, religious organizations and governmental entities that provide long-term disaster recovery assistance to the people of West Kentucky and Massac County, Illinois. 100% of the money received will be used to help our region recover.

To make a donation to the West Kentucky Disaster Recovery Fund, send a check payable to the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, P. O. Box 7901, Paducah, KY 42002. Please note West Kentucky Disaster Recovery Fund in the memo section. The Community Foundation of West Kentucky is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are fully deductible under the limits of the law.

If you wish to make another type of donation or if you have questions, contact the Community Foundation of West Kentucky at (270) 442-8622 or toll free at (855) 442-8623. Our email address is info@cfwestky.org.

Updates by County:

Ballard County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Dianne Scott
1138 Barlow Road
Wickliffe, KY 42087
Phone: (270) 335-5201

Calloway County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Shirley Jones
607 Poplar Street, Suite C
Murray, KY 42071
Phone: (270) 753-0908

Carlisle County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Nicole Jones
300 Front Street
Bardwell, KY 42023
Phone: (270) 628-3941

Dyer County

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center
2700 Lake Road – Suite 33,
Dyersburg, Tenn. 38024

Graves County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Clarissa Yarber
1222 West Water Street
Mayfield, KY 42066
Phone: (270) 247-4046

Hickman County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Joann Alexander
111 West Clay Street
Clinton, KY 42031
Phone: (270) 653-4494

Lake County

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center
National Guard Armory
2375 State Route 21E
Tiptonville, Tenn. 38079

Livingston County

Many Livingston County residents are assessing damage to their homes as flood waters subside. While residences in Smithland were mostly spared, it’s estimated some 150 homes were damaged throughout the county.

Marshall County

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Scott Dougherty
1107 Poplar Street
Benton, KY 42025
Phone: (270) 527-9766

or

Special Office
Needline 9am-12pm
307 Main Street
Benton, KY 42025

Individuals wishing to volunteer can call 270-527-3439 and provide coordinators their name, contact information, and specialties. Individuals will be matched to projects as they come into the center.

Massac County, IL – Metropolis

Harrah’s Casino at Metropolis reopened over the weekend for the first time in over a month. The floating casino rests on the Ohio River, where floodwaters claimed much of the hotel’s property.

All residents who have received any type of flood damage to their dwelling must contact the City Clerk’s Office at 524-2711 to report the general type of damage you received. At this time it is not necessary to provide a dollar amount as to the damage, only the general type of damage. For example, you will be asked how deep the water got on your first floor. This information is vital for FEMA to make a Federal disaster determination. This request applies whether you rent or own your property.

Emergency Numbers

The City’s emergency response system is fully operational. The numbers you may use to seek emergency help are as follows:
* Emergency 911
* Police Department (618) 524-2310
* Fire Department (618) 524-2121

Private Clean-Up Contractors

All private clean-up contractors and debris removal contractors must register with the City of Metropolis. Before you hire or contract with a private clean-up contractor or debris removal contractor you should do the following:

* Check with your homeowner’s insurance company to determine if it will pay for your clean-up costs and what it requires you to do.
* Call the City of Metropolis at 524-4016 or 524-2711 to make sure your contractor is registered. Do not hire a contractor who has not registered. A list of registered contractors is posted on the City’s website at www.cityofmetropolis.com and will be updated daily.
* Make sure your contractor provides you with a written price list and a written, signed estimate of what he expects to be your total cost.
* The City of Metropolis does not endorse or recommend any contractor. The City requires each registered contractor to provide key contact information, proof of liability insurance, a written price list stating its labor rates, equipment rates, and charges for supplies. You may review this in the Mayor’s Office at City Hall.

Website

Additional information and updates will be posted on a regular basis on the following websites:
www.cityofmetropolis.com
mmriverport.org

McCracken County – Paducah

Paducah’s LIVE camera snapshots along the Ohio Riverbank

West Kentucky Allied Services Inc.
Please bring food donations to:
Rahshal Jackson
709 South 22nd Street, Apt. 9
Paducah, KY 42003
Phone: (270) 444-7380

Obion County

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center
221 North Broadway
Obion, Tenn.  38240

Shelby County

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center
6465 Mullins Station Road
Memphis, Tenn.  38134

Land Between the Lakes

Camping and lake access opportunities are returning to Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area as flood waters recede.  Visitors can make camping reservations by visiting www.lbl.org or calling 800-525-7077.

Please check the Alerts & Notices page at www.lbl.org for current information, open/closed lists, and details before coming to LBL. Some areas remain barricaded and closed for visitor safety. Observe all closures for your safety. Citations will be issued to anyone found beyond barricaded areas.

Aerial Footage (April 26):

Chad Lampe and Chris Taylor from WKMS News surveyed storm damage and flooding in the region from an aerial view. Many thanks to Pilot John Hewlett, Dr. JD Outland for the use of his plane and Angela Rowlett for the photos. See the videos below. The first one surveys storm damage, the second surveys flooding.

Click here to see aerial photos.

Safety Tips:

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) reminds Kentuckians to follow safety guidelines in the wake of severe flooding and water run-off throughout the state. Please exercise caution when returning to flood damaged homes and businesses. For more information about public health issues related to flooding, visit the Health Alerts website www.healthalerts.ky.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods.

For information on public health issues related to flooding, visit: http://www.kyem.ky.gov/concernshomesafetyflooding/

Weather safety tips and weather alerts by county can be found on the KYEM website at www.kyem.ky.gov.

Road Conditions:

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) crews continue to monitor flooded roads and set barricades to close affected roads to motorists. Because of the rapidly changing nature of flooding, road closure information can quickly become outdated. Before traveling to an affected area, check with local authorities. Traffic information for interstates, parkways and major routes is available at 511.ky.gov or by calling 511. In addition, KYTC has a map on its website (www.transportation.ky.gov) indicating road closures.

Road Condition Links:
Click here for a graphical representation of current road closures
Kentucky: http://511.ky.gov/kyhb/main.jsf or call 511
Kentucky Transportation on FacebookDistrict 1District 2.
Illinois: http://wrc.gettingaroundillinois.com/pages/wrc.htm
Tennessee: http://ww2.tdot.state.tn.us/tsw/smartmap.htm

Kentucky Leaders Respond To Regional Flooding

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Response from Kentucky leaders about flood recovery efforts, moved from the main article.

UPDATED 4:45 PM Thursday – Updates from Gov. Beshear’s Office

From Governor Beshear’s Office May 5:

Governor Steve Beshear announced that much of the lower Ohio River will crest today — two weeks after Kentucky began experiencing a successive system of storms that caused flooding, tornadoes and straight line winds throughout much of the state. The Mississippi River is projected to crest on Saturday.

Gov. Beshear also reminded residents that Kentucky’s flood disaster declaration has been granted by President Obama. Requests for Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation have been granted. All other requests are currently under review.

“The granting of federal assistance by the president will go a long way toward bringing relief to the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “The flood waters should begin to recede soon, and our families and businesses have a lot of recovery ahead of them. The federal disaster declaration is an appropriate and timely response to those needs.”

Also today, the Governor added another 16 counties to his original request for disaster assistance for farm families to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Gov. Beshear had asked for disaster relief for 21 counties related to the storms that have damaged nearly every facet of the state’s agriculture industry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects the Ohio River to crest in Paducah at 55.8 feet today, lower than the record of 60.6 feet set in 1937. The Ohio River will likely crest at 55 feet at the Smithland levee sometime today. The Corps expects the river to hold steady at crest level for about two days before beginning to recede.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives continue damage assessments throughout the state. The federal teams work alongside representatives from Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM), small business administration and local emergency management. The joint assessment teams will assess all damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes in each county with a disaster declaration in order to calculate the magnitude of loss. The total assessments will help determine the level of federal disaster relief.

More than 600 Kentucky National Guard troops continue to assist in flood relief efforts in six western Kentucky counties. Missions include security patrols, evacuation support, sandbagging operations, communications and logistics and aviation support.

Approximately 3,800 Kentucky residents have evacuated their homes since flooding began. Four Red Cross shelters housed 38 people last night in three locations; a total of five Red Cross shelters are operating statewide.

Engineers and emergency response teams are monitoring the Hickman and Smithland levees around the clock for signs of failure or breach.

Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday in the central portion of the state produced one to four inches of rain, adding runoff to regional lakes and tributaries. The additional runoff may cause minor to moderate flooding in the Green River, Licking River, Rolling Fork River and Salt River. No additional evacuations are expected as a result of this recent rainfall.

Historic lake levels have been reported across the Commonwealth, and some controlled releases are underway at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Water has crested at the spillway at Taylorsville Lake, and provided there are no further storms, the water should begin to recede.

According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), approximately 250 roads are closed affecting more than 50 counties. Because of the rapidly changing nature of flooding, road closure information can quickly become outdated. Before traveling to an affected area, check with local authorities. Traffic information for interstates, parkways and major routes is available at 511.ky.gov or by calling 511. In addition, KYTC has a map on its website (www.transportation.ky.gov) indicating road closures.

Gov. Beshear Requests Additional USDA Disaster Assistance

Gov. Steve Beshear today requested additional counties be included in a request for disaster assistance from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as a result of severe storms and flooding that occurred, starting the week of April 17.

“Additional flooding from continued rainfall is severely affecting more counties in our agriculture community,” said Gov. Beshear. “All facets of Kentucky’s agricultural industry have been hard hit, and assistance from the USDA is critical and necessary to offset resulting income losses.”

On April 29, Gov. Beshear requested disaster assistance for 21 counties in western Kentucky. Today, the Governor requested the following 16 counties be added to the request: Anderson, Jefferson, Spencer, Boyle, Logan, Todd Bullitt, Meade, Trigg, Calloway, Mercer, Trimble, Christian, Ohio, Woodford, Franklin

The widespread effect of the flooding is continuing to impact Kentuckians across the Commonwealth as rivers that have not yet crested continue to rise. The Governor’s written request is the necessary first step to initiate the process for a Secretarial Disaster Designation. This designation is necessary for several USDA disaster assistance programs to become available to farmers across the Commonwealth.

Additional counties may be added to the request at a later date if conditions warrant.

Information about USDA Disaster Assistance Programs and the Secretarial Disaster Designation process are available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov by clicking on the Disaster Assistance Program link in the left-hand column.

On Blasting the Levee near Cairo

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin on Levee blast:
Illinois’ senior senator expects Congress will help those affected by the destruction of the Birds Point Levee. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says lawmakers in Washington will help the farmers and homeowners whose property is damaged or destroyed. “It is a tradition in the Congress that we stand behind those farmers. So they are going to be compensated for the loss of those crops, as they should be. We are not walking away from that responsibility.” Durbin made his comments before the levee was breached, and floodwaters rushed into southeast Missouri late Monday night. The Army Corps of Engineers wrapped up demolition work Tuesday, and experts remain hopeful the action will continue to reduce pressure on levees in Cairo and further upstream.

Statement from Attorney General Jack Conway, Tuesday, May 3: “With so many families in harm’s way due to historic flooding, I support the Army Corps of Engineers decision last night to detonate the Birds Point levee along the Mississippi River in Missouri. Although there is no perfect solution in the face of a disaster such as this, I believe the decision to breach this levee, permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court, will save lives and prevent significant property damage in Kentucky. My thoughts and prayers are now with the many families in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by rising flood waters.”

Statement from Governor Beshear, Monday, May 2: “I support this evening’s decision by the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Birds Point levee in Missouri. While this was clearly a difficult decision for the federal government, the protection of lives must come before the protection of property. In addition, with bad weather continuing for the Commonwealth, I hope it will provide Kentucky communities some relief.”

McConnell and Paul support Gov. Beshear’s request for federal aid

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing their support for Governor Steve Beshear’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Kentucky. “Since April 22, record flooding, high winds, and tornadoes have swept through the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Forty-eight (48) counties and seventeen (17) independent municipalities have requested assistance, as the severe storms caused extensive damage exceeding the ability of the state government and localities to effectively respond and triggering significant economic hardship,” wrote Senators McConnell and Paul. “Timely and serious consideration of the Governor’s disaster declaration request on your part would aid in providing essential services to Kentucky communities so severely affected by this most recent disaster, the ninth major disaster to impact the Commonwealth in three years.”

US Senator Rand Paul issued this statement Wednesday afternoon.

Conway intervenes in flooding lawsuit – April 29 Update

A federal judge in Missouri Friday granted a request from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to intervene in a federal lawsuit to help protect parts of Western Kentucky from potentially catastrophic flooding.

In Friday’s ruling, United States District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. also denied a request by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster for a temporary restraining order to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from detonating a levee on the Mississippi River if flood waters reach 60 feet on the river gauge at Cairo, Ill. “I appreciate Judge Limbaugh’s careful consideration of this matter,” General Conway said. “I intervened in this case to protect residents in Fulton County and other areas of Western Kentucky whose lives could be jeopardized by potentially catastrophic flooding.”

The case stems from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flood plan that has been in place since 1928 to help protect parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois from flooding. The plan calls for the Corps to detonate a levee on the Mississippi if flood waters reach 60 feet on the river gauge at Cairo, Ill. The Birds Point – New Madrid Floodway is located along the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The Corps purchased easements to farmland in Missouri, and the water would flood that farmland instead of destroying homes and businesses downstream in Cairo, Ill. and Hickman, Ky.

On Tuesday, April 26, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to stop the Army Corps from detonating the levee because he said it would flood 100 homes.

The Corps estimates that if the levees are not detonated when the river reaches 60 feet it could cause more than $32 million of damage in Fulton County alone. Additionally, officials estimate that 3.9 feet of water will flow over the top of the floodwall in Hickman – endangering lives and property.

Fulton County Attorney Rick Major has been assisting the Office of the Attorney General with the case.

Congressman Whitfield Tours Damaged Counties

U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield toured far western Kentucky Wednesday to survey flooding and storm damage. The Congressman hopes to visit twelve counties. Whitfield visited with Murray Mayor Bill Wells this morning, and discussed storm damage, as well as the possibility of federal disaster relief. Governor Steve Beshear is preparing to ask for a presidential disaster declaration. The Congressman says in times like these, it’s important to find out what county and city officials need. “Many of them have difficulties being reimbursed from the state and from FEMA. For there’s some communities who haven’t received all of their money from the Ice Storm, for example.” Whitfield met with emergency managers and judge executives on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Major and possibly historic flooding is expected in western Kentucky’s river communities.

morning cram [osama edition]

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The mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been killed by US forces in a surgical strike at a compound in northern Pakistan.

NPR reports Osama bin Laden’s death ends one of the longest and costliest manhunts in history.

KENTUCKY~ The latest Ohio River levels have gone up (again). Perkins Creek flooding in Paducah has closed more roads and Stuart Nelson Park. A Paducah woman drove into floodwaters yesterday and was rescued from drowning. Hickman’s Ohio River floodgates are leakingPoliticians weigh in on bin Laden’s death. The spring wildfire season has (officially) ended. The University of Kentucky announces a presidential candidate finalist.

TENNESSEE~ Clarksville cancels its 2010 Flood Commemoration (ironically) due to high waters. Henry County’s storm damage estimates > $1mil.

ILLINOIS~ The US Supreme Court will not stand in the way of blasting a Missouri levee to relieve Mississippi River flooding.