LOUISVILLE — Hundreds of Louisville residents were affected by flash flooding late Saturday and early Sunday after more than 6 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in parts of the Louisville area, prompting more than 1,000 calls to police, 84 evacuations, hundreds of assists and 12 rescues by firefighters.
No one was reported hurt, but dozens of roads were closed and many homes and cars damaged. The Red Cross on Monday will begin estimating how many people were displaced and may be in need, said Janine Brown, the disaster director for the Red Cross in Louisville.
Joseph Baker returned home Sunday to grapple with insurance and temporary housing as he prepared to replace walls, carpets, furniture and appliances lost as fast-rising flood waters forced their way into his home.
"I wasn't expecting it at all," said Baker, 47, who owns a landscaping business. "We lost a lot."
Authorities on Monday plan to assess damage and continue to help serve the displaced after the torrential rain that caught weather forecasters off-guard. In a matter of hours overnight, between 2 and 5 inches of rain fell on Louisville, depending on what part of the city you were in, said weather service meteorologist Robert Szappanos.
Originally the weather service forecast called for less than 2 inches of rain to fall late Saturday into Sunday. But by 8 p.m. 3 inches had fallen, and forecasters issued the first of several flash flood warnings shortly after 10 p.m.
The flooding was mainly in central Jefferson County, including Okolona, Beuchel and Whispering Hills, said Jody Duncan, spokeswoman for Louisville Metro Emergency Management.
In Okolona, the Jefferson County Water Rescue Team performed 250 assists and had to use watercraft to rescue a dozen people from their homes, she said.
For some of those people, "if (the rescue team) hadn't been there with the boat, the people never would have gotten out," she said.
At a Red Cross shelter set up at Atherton High School, flood victim Donna Whitehouse, 52, who lives at Guardian Court Apartments, was fretting about the damage and what she'd do in the immediate future after being rescued by inflatable boat around 3 a.m.
"I was in there just cleaning up when I seen water just come in the door," she said, adding that she looked outside and "it was all flooded over the cars."
Residents of Village Park Apartments tried to flush water out of their cars Sunday morning. Several residents said that the water was waist deep around midnight on Saturday.
"Everything toward the creek was under water," resident Bobby Stinnett said as he vacuumed water out of his car. "It had to be 2 to 3 feet of water."
In Southern Indiana, police reported no evacuations and only one rescue, which occurred in Corydon, Ind., around 9 a.m. Sunday when firefighters waded into 2-foot-deep waters to help an elderly woman whose compact car stalled after she'd driven onto a flooded street.
Measured from midnight to midnight during a single day, Saturday's 5.91 inches of rainfall made it the third wettest on record, according to the National Weather Service.
So much rain fell in a short time that it might take until Monday morning before the city's sewer system is drained completely, said Steve Tedder, spokesman for the Metropolitan Sewer District.
Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said the city plans to assess the cost of the damage but that it initially appeared that it would not meet a threshold for an emergency declaration that would trigger federal aid.
For affected homeowners, he said, "the first line of defense is to contact your insurance company."
The week ahead should bring with it time for things to dry out. After a high Monday in the low 60s, the rest of the week is expected to be in the 70s with little chance of rain.
But that's of little solace to flooded residents such as Baker, who moved his truck to higher ground before the flood that later forced him to spend the night in a hotel. Surveying the damage Sunday, he could see that the water had broken the basement windows of the home next door, and the nearby creek was strewn with chairs, trash barrels, limbs and other debris.
Baker said he has insurance, but isn't certain how much it will cost to repair his home.
Contributing: Laura Ungar and Grace Schneider, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.