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Flooding damages buildings

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Heavy rainfall Monday night caused flooding that damaged items stored in the McCracken County Courthouse and several other county buildings.

County Clerk Jeff Jerrell said several boxes of public records in the courthouse's vault were damaged. He said the files are stored on the floor of the basement because of lack of adequate space. Two computers were also destroyed, and several others sustained some damage. The total amount of damage had not been calculated Tuesday, Jerrell said.

He said 1 to 2 inches of water had accumulated in the basement Tuesday morning. The water seeped in through many of the basement walls that are rotten.

"It's a big mess. We have fans blowing, and everything is wet on one side," he said. "Staff members have to walk around the mess and have to deal with mold and mildew."

The clerk has some of the damaged files in electronic form, but others only exist as paper copies. Jerrell said staff members were drying out the documents and the carpet with fans all day Tuesday. The water was vacuumed by noon. 

Jerrell said flooding at the courthouse has been ongoing for four to five years with the last major incident about two years ago. He said following two incidents of flooding in 2011, he sent a letter to Judge-Executive Van Newberry dated Aug. 14, 2012, asking for something to be done. The courthouse's kitchen also sustained some flooding last week without substantial damage, he said.

"It's frustrating because we have notified them numerous times that this is an issue," he said. "Then it rains and happens again."

Newberry said flooding in the basement is inevitable with the age of the building and has been an issue since at least the 1980s.

The addition of the new part of the building eased some of the issues, but when the street systems are overwhelmed by water in a short period of time, water will get into the basement, he said.

"It's something you deal with when you have a 71-year old building with a basement," he said. "It's going to crack and settle."

He said with large amounts of rainfall, even newer buildings such as the sheriff's department and jail could have issues. Newberry said the storage system, which includes cardboard boxes and other items stored on the floor of the basement, is problematic.

"Common sense would dictate not to put things on the floor of the basement," he said.

The area will be caulked and the rotten tiles will be removed. Newberry said he expects the damage to be less than the county's $1,000 insurance deductible.

The McCracken County jail annex and public safety building, which houses storage space for the sheriff's department and the satellite hub for the Mercy Regional Ambulance service, also had about 2 inches of water inside both buildings from Monday night's storm, according to Jailer Bill Adams. He said a sewer on Adams Street backed up because of the heavy rainfall.

Adams said officials and inmates worked until 4 a.m. and again Tuesday afternoon cleaning and drying the floor. He said no one had to be moved, but water damaged some of the 16,000 square feet of tile floors. Some tiles that have become rotten will have to be replaced, but an estimate hasn't been calculated. A large grinder machine valued at $12,000 was also damaged in the water,  and the motor will need to be repaired or replaced, according to Adams.

A flash flood warning was in effect for parts of McCracken, Marshall, Livingston and Massac, Ill., counties from 10 p.m. to midnight Monday. Dave Purdy of the National Weather Service in Paducah said two-thirds of a inch of rain was recorded at Barkley Regional Airport, but much larger amounts fell elsewhere in the county in a short span of time and led to the flash flooding. 

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

Comments made about this article - 1 Total

posted on: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 10:26 AM

Title: Flooded courthouse

Sounds like to me need to move Van Newberry down there see if he likes it and something can be done

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