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Flooding Drives Some Louisville Residents From Their Homes

At about 4 a.m. Friday, Nathan Milner sloshed through waist-deep water surging into his ground floor apartment in the Bashford Manor neighborhood.

The water came in fast, said Milner, 25. Within 30 minutes, maybe less, the cold, dirty water inundated the small, two bedroom apartment he shares with five other people.

"Water was just gushing in," said Deann Henderson, who also lives at the apartment.

Henderson and Milner quickly gathered needed medication, a change of clothes, the three dogs and headed to higher ground. Everything else got left behind.

Heavy rains that led to flash floods early Friday morning impacted hundreds of Louisville residents. Some, like Henderson and Milner, were driven out of their home.

They quickly made their way to Broadbent Arena, where the American Red Cross established an emergency disaster relief center for anyone displaced or in need of assistance. There, people were provided food, water, blankets and a cot.

"We will be here until the need is met," said Tony Hardin, a volunteer and state shelter manager for the American Red Cross in Louisville.

About eight inches of rain fell overnight and by 8 a.m. rescue crews had pulled nearly 160 people to safety, MetroSafe officials said at a press conference Friday morning.

Henderson said the three dogs are with a friend. As for herself, Milner and Debona Blair, another roommate, the next steps are still unknown.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "We'll just take it a day at a time."

She said they may get a motel room for the night. she said she's still numb to the fact that she may be forced to throw away all of her furniture and a slew of family photos.

The real pain, she said, will come when she goes back to her apartment, "to see the devastation the water does."

This isn't Henderson's first experience with flooding. In October 2014, she said the same apartment she evacuated Friday was engulfed in rising water. She said that flood took everything she had—her clothes, her bedding, her electric wheelchair.

This time, she said, the damage will likely be worse. Weather forecasts are calling for more wet weather and Henderson knows the South Fork of Beargrass Creek that runs alongside her apartment building will continue to rise even after the rain stops.

When the water subside, though, Henderson said the crew will likely move back in. Financially, times are tough, and moving isn't likely.

She recieves about $800 a month in disability payments. Her son, she said, is the only person living in the apartment with a job. He works part-time at Target.

"We live on about $200 a month after all the bills are paid," she said.

Henderson said she is thankful for the Red Cross and the rescue crews that are helping people get out of potentially dangerous situations. The rain fell so hard, the water rose so fast, that it's difficult to put the blame on the city, despite the fact that the creek near her apartment is often cluttered and clogged with trash and debris, she said.

Donnie Davidson agrees with Henderson. He said the frequent flooding of the area near his Guardian Court apartment needs to be addressed by Metropolitan Sewer District, but in this case, there wasn't much anyone could do.

"I think you could point fingers, but when it rains like this you're going to get floods," he said.

Davidson, 35, was escorted by rescue crews from his apartment along with his 4-year-old son to the disaster relief shelter at Broadbent Arena.

"They did an awesome job," he said.

Watching his son run around the expansive arena floor, his mother-in-law resting on a cot nearby, Davidson, like Henderson, said he isn't sure what he will do now.

He said he might go to a motel. But he isn't sure.

"If I had my way I'd live in a mansion, a nice brick home," he said. "But, knowing my luck it would probably flood."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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