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Rolling Fork River water levels rising

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By Erin L. McCoy

Water levels reached 43.2 feet in the Rolling Fork River near Boston at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday after a night of thunderstorms and high winds that resulted in a tornado warning.

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A flood warning in Boston will be in effect for several more days, according to Robert Szappanos, forecaster at the National Weather Service in Louisville. The river is expected to reach 45 feet, he said. Flood stage for the Rolling Fork is 35 feet.

Old Nelsonville Road and Shady Lane, both in the Boston area, were closed early Tuesday afternoon due to flooding, though Shady Lane was marked off by signs only, according to Kroger Phillips, assistant road department supervisor at the Nelson County Road Department.

Dee Head Road near New Hope was also closed, along with Leonard Hall Road south of New Hope. The latter was closed due to the road slipping in inclement weather. As many as 10 trees had been cleared from county roads by noon Tuesday, Phillips said.

KY 46, Nat Rogers Road, was closed between mile markers 5 and 6 Monday due to water in the roadway, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 

A few hundred Salt River Electric customers throughout four counties experienced power outages during the storm, and Nelson County Schools were delayed two hours Tuesday. Most Nelson County outages were in the southern, Melody Lake area, Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing, Randy Burba, said. As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 29 customers, most of them on Deatsville Road near KY 245, remained without power.

According to the LG&E/Kentucky Utilities website, power had been restored to all customers as of 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Nelson County also experienced a tornado warning until 4:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service was still surveying damage in the Nelson County area and said information on wind speeds and rainfall would not be available until after press time Tuesday. It was reported 2-4 inches of rain fell during the weekend. Check www.kystandard.com for updates.

A resident of Antler’s Trace Drive near Rooster Run told The Kentucky Standard that tornado sirens in his area didn’t go off during Tuesday’s tornado warning. Another resident of that road stated the siren didn’t go off during a tornado warning the evening of April 23.

Cliff Auge of Antler’s Trace said he hadn’t heard the 6 p.m. test siren for more than three weeks.

But Joe Osborne, Nelson County Emergency Management Agency director, insisted the Antler’s Trace area siren went off during both tornado warnings. However, they are sometimes difficult to hear from indoors, he said.

“They are intended as outdoor weather sirens for people traveling or outside,” he said. “It’s not the intent to wake people up.”

The sirens can be heard on a calm day from 5 miles away or more, Osborne said, “But we never have a tornado on a calm day.” It is also easier to hear a siren if you are downwind of it, and EMA attempts to place sirens where most residents are downwind, he added.

The Rooster Run siren serving Antler’s Trace was down for repairs before tornado season, but repairs were completed at least a week ago, Osborne said. That siren and a siren at the Nelson County Airport failed a March 8 test of Nelson County’s 17 sirens, five of which are placed in the immediate Bardstown area, others in Boston, Chaplin, Bloomfield, New Haven, Botland and Cox’s Creek.

The siren at the airport, which can also be heard from a mobile park nearby and in Bardstown, malfunctioned Tuesday morning, Osborne said. The EMA is still investigating the reason its battery died.

“Someone may have inadvertently turned the breaker off,” he said.

The Nelson County Dispatch Office sets off sirens in cases of inclement weather. There is an ongoing problem with the dispatch’s “all call” button, which can set off every siren in the county with the push of a single button. During Saturday and Tuesday’s tornado warnings, dispatchers set off each siren one by one, Osborne said.

Auge also stated dispatchers had been rude to his wife when she called to notify them of the siren malfunctioning.

“Niceness works both ways,” E-911 Dispatch Board Chair Fred DeWitt said in response. “Most people, when they call you, they’re upset about something not working or not in order.”

But DeWitt encouraged people to report malfunctioning sirens to Dispatch at 348-3600.

Osborne urged residents not to rely on tornado sirens to wake them up when bad weather hits. He said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) weather alert radios can be purchased for inside the home at many electronics stores, including Wal-Mart, and can be as cheap as $25-35.

“That’s what we try to encourage people all along. Don’t ... think the sirens are going to wake you up — they may, they may not,” he said.