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Louisville Officials Calculating Flood Damage, Considering FEMA Aid Request

Louisville Metro Government officials have been surveying flood damage to see if the city qualifies for federal aid. So far, they’ve come up about $1.7 million short.

So far, about $600,000 has been spent to keep the city’s flood pumping stations active. An additional $100,000 will likely be required to clean and repair streets. That’s short of the $2.4 million in damage necessary for the city to qualify for federal assistance. But Emergency Management Director Doug Hamilton says there may be some costs that haven’t yet been tabulated.

“So we have asked all public agencies that have been involved in this effort to report their costs by close of business Monday to see if we can meet that threshold,” he says.

If the city crosses the threshold, Hamilton says Metro Government will ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds. Louisville has been granted federal relief for three disasters in the last three years, though not all of it has been paid.

“We have some categories that are still out for the wind storm, actually, of 2008; some from the ice storm; and a small claim left from the third disaster, of August 4th 2009,” says Hamilton.

Hamilton says he’s confident the money will be paid.

Individuals may also apply for disaster relief funds for any uninsured flood damage.

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Flood Protection System Proving Effective

Despite this being the wettest April on record, with 13.6 inches of rain and counting, MSD Director Bud Schardein says Louisville’s flood protection system is working as designed.

The agency predicts that everything outside the flood plane will remain unaffected by the rising waters since all 16 flood pumping plants remain fully operational.

“I believe since the system was built” says Schardein, “that’s the first time we could say that every pumping unit in all 16 of those pumping plants is working right now.”

After 3 inches of rain last night, he says it was a close call this morning, but with today’s slight break in the rain, officials say the pumping stations will be able to catch up and the drainage channels will recede.

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Following Last Week’s Failure, Louisville Tornado Sirens Sound During Drill

by Dalton Main

One week after civil defense sirens failed to sound during a tornado watch in Louisville, MetroSafe says all mechanical systems are functioning properly.

The agency took part in a statewide tornado drill today. According to executive Director Doug Hamilton, all 123 sirens were working properly, though three did not sound due to power issues.

“We didn’t have any issues identified, obviously we have put in numerous other ways for people to get notice other than the Emergency Alert System and those did function,” he says.

Last week, MetroSafe radios did not pick up a tornado warning signal from the National Weather Service. Further, MetroSafe employees did not manually sound the sirens when they learned of the warning. Equipment has been repaired and the agency is looking into disciplining the employees.

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MetroSafe Chief: Tornado Warning Error Was Avoidable

Louisville Metro Government officials say they’ll issue a report later this week on why emergency sirens weren’t activated during a tornado warning Monday morning.

MetroSafe Director Doug Hamilton says there was confusion among emergency management supervisors who, “overly relied” on a National Weather Service radio system that issued the warning. The warning was not picked up by MetroSafe and as a result no sirens were sounded.

“Clearly an avoidable error on our part, but we appreciate the opportunity to look at the technology, the processes and the people, all of which worked together for us to have successfully sounded the sirens in this community for many, many years. But we acknowledge it may be a process that may not work for us in the future,” he said at a Wednesday news conference.

Hamilton says MetroSafe will review its procedures and insure that there’s a backup source of information for warnings and other advisories.