With rain coming down over the last several days, the Ohio River has risen to levels that could soon be worrisome for areas of downtown, including Smothers Park. As of now, the Ohio River has risen to 43.8 feet. Flood stage begins at 40 feet.
City employees have spent the past two days loading and stacking sandbags around Smothers Park to prevent water from flooding the area if the Ohio River was to crest and spill over. For now, Public Works Grounds Manager Adam Wright doesn’t know that the river will crest. If it does crest, Wright expects it could happen this weekend.
“Predictions [that the Ohio River will crest] are varying. We will have a possible crest over the weekend. I’m wanting to say maybe Friday around midnight it’ll be 45 [feet], 3 inches,” Wright said. “Depending on the rain they get east of us, it could go up, depending on what the locks do, it could come down.”
Last year, the Ohio River flooded Smothers Park, cresting in late February at 50 feet. In order to prevent major flood damage from occurring this time, Wright said city employees began prepping the area with caution tape and sandbags on Monday night. For now, public works has stacked only one row of sandbags at 1,000 feet in length, as they still aren’t sure whether or not the river will crest.
Smothers Park Flood Preparation
1. City employees have spent the past two days loading and stacking sandbags around Smothers Park to prevent water from flooding the area if the Ohio River was to crest and spill over. | Photo by Owensboro Times
2. Last year, the Ohio River flooded Smothers Park, cresting in late February at 50 feet. | Photo by Owensboro Times
3. For now, public works has stacked only one row of sandbags at 1,000 feet in length, as they still aren’t sure whether or not the river will crest. | Photo by Owensboro Times
“All we’re doing is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” Wright said. “We’re trying to get a decent stack in case the river does get up to the point it’s at the base of the handrail. The barge traffic likes to splash water into the park, so we’re trying to keep that down. And then, if the worst happens, we can start our stack higher.”
Wright split his grounds division into two teams Monday morning to load all the sand and then begin bagging it. Other departments, such as sanitation and the streets department, joined Wright’s team in the effort as well.
As for downtown, Wright said the potential impending flood waters aren’t high enough yet to be considered dangerous for those who want to enjoy Smothers Park. An employee of Wright’s said it would take another 5 feet of raised water to spill over the edge and onto the downtown riverwalk.
“Come on down, enjoy your time downtown. Just don’t trip over any sandbags or plastic and just know that’s there for your protection,” Wright said. “We don’t want to deter you from coming down here. Believe you me, when it’s time to deter people, we know how to do that too.”
In a press release sent Daviess County Emergency Management, Director Andy Ball states that due to ongoing flooding concerns, Daviess County Fiscal Court has authorized the issuance of sandbags to residents. This decision by fiscal court aims to assist residents with mitigating flooding on their properties.
Ball gave the following times for sandbagging operations:
Tuesday: 1 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sandbagging operations will take palce at Daviess County Public Works at 2620 Calhoun Rd. (Turn into the Daviess County Public Works entrance from Hwy 81, go through the gate, turn left into third drive on left and the sandbagging station will be on the right.)
Each Daviess County resident household can receive up to 50 filled or empty sandbags. Volunteers will be standing by to assist with filling, tying and loading the sandbags.
If a resident should require more than 50 sandbags, Ball said Schrecker Supply Company has placed an order for 6,000, which should arrive Wednesday. Bags from Schrecker come in a bundle of 100 and 74 cents each. It is recommend to call 270-684-6244 before making a trip to Schrecker.
Ball said Amazon has empty sandbags residents can order online today and receive by Thursday. He also added that big box stores like Menards, Lowes, Home Depot and Wal-Mart also have online sales of empty sandbags.