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By AMBER COULTER
A cardboard sign on the front of an Elm Street house in West Point reads “House for sale. Great view of river. Must do a quick close. 502-555-SWIM.”
The edge of the flooded Ohio River had reached the back and sides of the house by Tuesday afternoon.
In the background, many houses that were beginning to be encircled by water Sunday were a third or more under water.
West PointVeterans Memorial Park was under water, and the edge of the Ohio River was lapping against the back of the fire station by Tuesday afternoon.
West PointElementary Schoolis closed until further notice because so many students have left the area with their families.
Original predictions said the river would crest Tuesday, but continuing rain has pushed that estimate to between 9 a.m. and noon on Thursday.
Mayor Billy Ash said reports call for the river to reach 65 feet in depth, bringing the flood level to five feet lower than the 1997 flood.
Once the river crests, it might hold that level as long as 12 or 24 hours and then slowly recede. It’s important that waters don’t recede too quickly, Ash said.
“Historically, when it goes down like someone unplugged a bathtub drain, it tends to come back up,” he said.
Ash and Judge-Executive Harry Berry declared a state of emergency for West Point on Monday to allow for the possibility of federal funds to help cover flood expenses.
Ash said he has no intention of declaring a mandatory evacuation, and rumors that Dixie Highway might be shut down because of flood waters are false.
People who have been asked by firefighters, police officers and public works employees have been cooperative, he said.
About 30 homes on Riverview Drive had water in of around them by Tuesday afternoon, Ash said.
About two houses on South Sixth Street have water in them, and three or four more likely will by the time the water crests. People in 11 houses on that street were asked to move their belongings, he said.
Collins Mobile Home Park, which includes about 15 mobile homes, has been evacuated. Five or six homes in the back section of the park likely will have water in them within the next two days, he said.
Ash said all city officials can do is to keep track of flood gauges.
Officials have and continue to compare rainfall reports from the National Weather Service’s Louisville office to how high water levels get in West Point. That gives city employees enough data to advise residents regarding whether they should move things to higher ground or leave their houses based on information from Louisville, he said.
The American Red Cross is operating a shelter for flood victims throughout the county at Colvin Community Center in Radcliff.
Ash said it appears that the shelter will be able to stay open through Friday.
The shelter offers cots, food, showers and comfort kits with items such as towels and wash cloths.
Only one family, which was from West Point, had come into the shelter by Tuesday afternoon. The family planned to return that night, said Alissa Harbison, an American Red Cross volunteer from Louisville who was helping at the shelter.
“I didn’t know what to expect exactly,” she said. “It’s hard to know, but our mission is to make ourselves available, just in case.”
Many residents who left their houses went to stay with friends and relatives.
Elm Street, which was bustling on Sunday with people moving their belongings, only saw a few holdouts, people checking on homes and cars driving by slowly to check the damage.
Angela and Joseph Frost looked at the house they rent that was encircled by water, hoping that the waters don’t kill the purple smoke tree that they planted in their front yard in honor of their 8-month old daughter, Jenna Marie, who died in 2009 of sudden infant death syndrome.
Billy Jensen, a second-grader at West Point Elementary, cast his fishing pole into the Ohio River where his uncle’s back yard used to be because he had seen a cat fish jump there.
He tried to catch fish with a couple dozen night crawlers he and his mother, Cathy, found in the muddy ground.
The home on 14th Street in which they live was encircled by the Salt River.
Cathy Jensen said her brother’s home, in which they were staying, had water in the basement and about five more feet of water would cause the flood to reach the ground floor.
“It’s going to be close,” she said.
She said neighbors have been kind in helping each other and offering trailers for moving belongings.
There are empty boxes and volunteers to help people who need to move their belongings.
Christian Church on Main Street was giving meals to people affected by the flood because Louisville Gas & Electric employees were turning off electricity in areas where flood waters made electrical wiring dangerous.
Amber Coulter can be
reached at (270) 505-1746.