Jeffersonville officials warn residents to stay away from rising Ohio River
The Ohio River is about 20 feet high than normal.
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) – Officials in southern Indiana are asking people to stay away from the river.
The Ohio River is more than out of its banks. It's about 20-feet higher than normal.
“It's really kind of scary. It's getting to the point where there's really nowhere else for the rain to go,” said Rob McAlister, who lives in Jeffersonville.
The water is now up to the light poles in downtown Jeffersonville that once illuminated a walking path along the river.
“There's a fun element to see the river in a unique state, but it's definitely scary,” said Kofi Darku, another Jeffersonville resident.
And all that interest in the river has Jeffersonville city officials on edge.
“People are seeing things they don't normally see. People, kids are getting too close to the edge of the water,” Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said.
Moore added some people are even wading into the water, which is a red flag for the city's fire chief.
“It's going to be very hard to save someone if they did get involved in the river,” Chief Eric Hedrick said.
“Please, please stay away from the water because that mighty Ohio has a name for a reason. It can take you away unsuspecting,” Moore said.
As the river rises the immediate danger is along its banks and crews are on standby to prepare the city's flood gates.
“Oh I'm always on edge when the rivers at flood stage, but we're just monitoring the river,” said Mike Lanham, flood control superintendent.
But officials have to prepare for another looming threat.
“A lot of times when you've got flash flooding coming in like we do today, you don’t even have to be anywhere near the river,” said Mayor Moore.
Since the ground is unable to absorb any more rain, trees are susceptible to falling down and taking power lines with them.
“We're concerned with that because of the loose ground and the roots. We're expecting some high winds also,” Hedrick said.
In preparation, the Red Cross set up shelter at First Christian Church and will stay open as long as it's needed.
“It could be several days, it just depends on what those families need,” said Jennifer Adrio, Regional CEO for the Red Cross.
“Hopefully people don't remember 2018 the way we remember 1997,” Moore said.
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