Quick Takes

Heavy rainfall inundates West Kentucky, spurring flood ’emergencies’ and water rescues

By: - July 19, 2023 12:12 pm

Several counties in West Kentucky are under flash flood emergencies after at least four to eight inches of rain — some areas seeing higher amounts — have fallen in the region in the past 24 hours. 

The National Weather Service in Paducah said Wednesday morning water rescues were taking place in some areas due to people driving into flooded areas. Businesses and homes in the region were inundated with water and numerous roads were closed due to overflowing water, the weather service said. 

Counties experiencing the heaviest rainfall are Graves, McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Calloway.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear at a Wednesday afternoon press conference said he declared a state of emergency due to the flooding, activating the state’s price gouging laws. He asked Kentuckians to be careful as up to two inches of rain was still expected in the region.

“We cannot and should not lose any lives,” Beshear said. “Be safe. Don’t drive through currents.”

Beshear said there have been no requests yet from local governments for state assistance and no fatalities reported to the state as of Wednesday afternoon.

A drone video from photojournalist Brandon Clement showed flooded neighborhoods Wednesday morning in the Graves County seat of Mayfield. The small city is still recovering from a devastating EF-4 tornado that came through the city’s downtown in late 2021. 

Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden on Facebook said roads in the county were washed out and mentioned that a local church, His House Ministries, was opening its doors as a temporary shelter. 

“​​Major flooding like many have never seen is occurring,” Hayden said on social media earlier Wednesday morning. “Stay off the roads as many are flooded and are impassable.” 

Judge-executives in Graves County, Ballard County, Hickman County and Carlisle County have declared local state of emergencies due to the flooding, according Beshear and social media posts.

This story has been updated.

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.