Residents in Midwest, South clean up after storms blamed for 13 deaths

Monday, September 25th 2006, 8:41 am
By: News On 6

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Debris and damaged items from homes and businesses where hauled curbside Monday as residents in the Midwest and South cleaned up after the weekend's severe thunderstorms that were blamed for 13 deaths.

At least 8 deaths were reported in Kentucky after flooding triggered by 5 to 10 inches of rain in 36 hours sent rivers and creeks over their banks. Eighteen counties and 12 cities declared states of emergency, state officials said.

Every business in the small far western Kentucky city of Fulton was flooded by four feet of water from Harris Fork Creek, authorities said.

High water remained across Kentucky on Monday, and while some flood warnings were still in effect, creeks and rivers had nearly all crested, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms that hit parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee on Friday and Saturday stranded people in cars, forced others from their homes and left thousands without power.

The death toll in Kentucky included two University of Kentucky students swept up by knee-deep water as they tried to cross a flooded Lexington roadway.

"This is a very exceptional event," Bud Schardein, executive director of Louisville's metropolitan sewer district, said of the flooding. "This is not the average storm, it's not even a heavy storm,"

In Illinois, authorities said lightning was the apparent cause of a house fire that killed elderly two women. Three deaths were reported in Arkansas, where six counties declared states of emergency.

In northern Arkansas on Monday, officials found the body of a retired firefighter two days after he was swept away when the Spring River overflowed its banks at a campground in Hardy.

With the floods, campers were stranded at the private campgrounds.

"People were hanging from trees," Hardy Fire Chief Lonnie Phelps said. "The river came up quick."

Arkansas rivers swelled up to 8 feet above flood levels, officials said. Campers at River Bend Park were asked to evacuate.

"I didn't think we were going to make it out of there," said Charles Lenderman, who awoke Saturday morning to find knee-high water in his camper's kitchen. Lenderman and family members -- wearing life jackets -- swam from the camper to higher ground about
100 yards away.

In central and eastern Missouri, nearly 400 structures were damaged or destroyed and at least 10 people were injured by about 10 tornadoes, officials said.