An unusual winter deluge that left three people dead in Tennessee and Kentucky raised the threat of more flooding from Indiana to Texas Wednesday as hot Southern air met cold Northern air with dangerous results.
The relentless rain filled rivers to overflowing, closed roads and forced the evacuation of a hospital. Although it brought relief to drought-stricken areas of Tennessee and Texas, for many people it was too much of a good thing."There have been very few floods people can remember worse than this," Sen. Albert Gore Jr., D-Tenn., said Tuesday night as he toured hard-hit sections not far from his home in Carthage.
Wilson County, just east of Nashville, was drenched with nearly 6 inches of rain. One woman, 62-year-old Sophia Payer, drowned when she ignored police warnings not to cross flooded U.S. Highway 231, authorities said.
The rainfall also caused a power outage in the county that forced 70 people to be evacuated from a hospital in Lebanon. Schools were canceled and police reported 80 vehicles stalled on flooded roads.
Flash-flood watches were in effect early Wednesday from northeast Texas to southern Ohio, ranging along a line that crossed through Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia.
Rivers overflowed in central and western Kentucky. Residents were evacuated along the Green River and Little River; merchants in New Haven, Ky., began sandbagging the banks of the Rolling Fork River.
Many rivers in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana are expected to flood later in the week as their water levels continue to rise.
A nun, Sister Robert Edlin of the Sisters of Loretto, was caught in high water as she drove along Kentucky 605 about 30 miles southeast of Louisville. Authorities said she was rescued as the water reached the depth of her dashboard. She was treated at hospital in Bardstown for minor hypothermia.
Two people in Kentucky died Monday when their car went out of control in heavy rain near the Indiana border.