By MIKE WILLIAMS
A state of emergency exists in Pulaski County today.
Pulaski County Administration made the emergency declaration Thursday, and it was ratified this morning during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
According to County Administrator Peter Huber, once administration declares an emergency, the board has 10 days in which to ratify the declaration for it to be recognized by the state.
Several factors, according to Huber, led to the emergency declaration.
Huber said American Electric Power is conducting a drawdown of Claytor Lake due to the recent rainfall and the several inches of rain that is expected through the weekend. That causes concern over the water level at the water intake for the county located in the Draper area.
He said normal flows at the intake are about 2,100 to 2,200 gallons per minute. With a two-foot drawdown by AEP, water intake is down to about 1,400 gallons per minute.
In response, the county deployed its barge and loaded an excavator onto it on lake front property owned by Stan Moran. The barge was then moved to the area of the intake. Once there silt was shifted around and away from the intake.
Huber said that normally once the silt is touched, regulations require it to be removed. However, written approval had been obtained earlier from all the regulatory agencies that govern the lake that in the event of an emergency the silt can be moved around, but not removed.
As of Friday morning, flow had increased to about 1,800 gallons per minute due to the action.
The second reason for the declaration, Huber said, is the expected rainfall. The worst of it, he said, is expected from between 3 p.m. and midnight tonight.
About four inches of rain is expected, Huber noted.
“The problem is there’s no place for it to go. The ground has already absorbed all it is going to absorb. Plus there will be high winds,” Huber said.
He said Emergency Management Coordinator Josh Tolbert and others had been busy making sure county drains are cleared and working properly, that all vehicles are full of fuel and that swift water rescue is available, hopefully at the lake.
Huber told the supervisors that a couple days ago a Radford University student who had gone kayaking had to be rescued by the swift water rescue team.
Huber said the county had received a call earlier from Floyd County needing help with building inspections due to flooding. He said two of the county’s building officials – Edith Hampton and Bill Warden – were sent to assist.
“There were about seven houses they had to condemn where they had been flooded, and they said there were more that needed to be condemned, but the residents had no place to go,” Huber related.
The board met this morning at the county’s Visitor’s Center prior to a Manufacturing Day event sponsored by Pulaski County and the Chamber of Commerce.