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If a major flood occurred in Taylorsville, where would everyone go? And how would they get there?
Those are questions that local officials want to get answers for soon after the idea for a comprehensive evacuation plan was discussed at the Jan. 5 Taylorsville City Commission meeting.
“I don’t feel like, and Gary, I know you don’t feel like we have an adequate evacuation plan for the city,” Mayor Don Pay said to Floodwall Commissioner Gary Kehne at one point in the meeting.
“In terms of the floodwall, Mayor, to my knowledge, we don’t have an evacuation plan,” said Kehne, who was attending the meeting as an interested citizen. “We have a city evacuation plan in terms of a breach of the dam, the lake dam. But in terms of an actual evacuation plan within the city ... where there is the breach on the floodwall, no one knows what the hell to do.”
So, local officials plan to get the ball rolling with discussion at today’s Taylorsville-Spencer County 9-1-1 Board, which is a cooperative of emergency management services.
Kehne said an evacuation plan is part of requirements the community must meet to satisfy edicts laid out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency following flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.
“The requirement is that we actually have an assessed, documented plan of evacuation for the community in the event of a major flood, catastrophe, or floodwall breach,” he said. “And I will quote as I have always done: There are two types of floodwall – those that have breached and those that will breach. It’s going to happen.”
Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis, who was giving his monthly report to the commission when the evacuation plan discussion began, said his department already has some plans in effect for major flooding. Included in the procedure is plans to have all available school buses put into effect to move people out of harm’s way, he said.
Lewis, who is part of the 9-1-1 Board, said he has been provided with “a list of drivers who have their buses at their home that can respond, as well as those that are staged down here, that we can utilize to get residents out of the city.”
Taylorsville officials have been working under federal mandate in recent years to re-certify the floodwall levee protecting the city. Included in the effort was the securing of $1 million in state and federal grants to fix the levee and flooding on Houston Court, and the hiring late last year of DLZ Engineering, of Frankfort, to coordinate the effort.
Pay said DLZ will hopefully have all of its work completed within the first six months of the year. But he said the evacuation plan is still a necessary tool.
“I am not comfortable with what we have now,” he said.
In addition to safety concerns, having the floodwall fixed and re-certified will prevent insurance premiums from sky-rocketing due to increased flood-zone designations, Pay has stressed through recent months.
“If our community is not certified, insurance rates are going to soar,” he said during his recent successful reelection campaign.
Property values are going to drop and we can say good-bye to future economic development.”