The head of the Metropolitan Sewer District says more storms like the one that caused last year’s flash flood are likely in the city’s future, and he wants to prepare local infrastructure.
More than seven inches of rain fell in just over an hour on parts of the city on the morning of August 4th, 2009. The rain was too much for Louisville’s drainage system to handle, and flood waters damaged homes, businesses, government buildings and vehicles in parts of west, central and south Louisville.
MSD Director Bud Schardein stops short of blaming climate change or other causes, but says these kinds of weather incidents are becoming more common.
“There was about 8-10 inches of rain that fell in Chicago in several hours,” he says. “In June, there were people who died—I believe 20 or so—in flash flooding in the Ozarks due to a very heavy, very intense rain event in a very short period of time and just a week later in Oklahoma, the same thing occurred. This is a trend.”
Schardein says MSD is applying for federal grants to buy homes in flood-prone areas and replace them with green space. The open lots would absorb water during storms and help prevent the sewers from overflowing.
“If we’re successful, and I think we’re going to be with some of these, then we’re going to be able to offer those homeowners the opportunity to leave that area where they’re vulnerable—relocate to another home,” he says.
Schardein says the district is eyeing about 130 homes for buyouts. So far, he says homeowners have been receptive.