Here’s where and how to properly dispose of your live Christmas tree in Louisville Sunday, Dec 26 2021 

Trees must be completely free of all decorations, and they cannot be in plastic bags.

        

USGS: Small earthquakes detected in Kentucky Thursday, Dec 23 2021 

U.S. Geological Survey says a 2.3 magnitude earthquake, with an epicenter near Jackson, Kentucky, was detected Thursday morning.

        

In western Kentucky, tornadoes are frequent — and put billions at risk Friday, Dec 17 2021 

J. Tyler Franklin

Princeton, Ky. in Caldwell County was directly in the path of the deadly tornado that tore through parts of western Kentucky early Saturday morning.

The western Kentucky counties where last week’s storm struck were the site of more than a quarter of all of Kentucky’s tornadoes between 2008 and 2018.

According to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information, the collective impact of all of those storms — three deaths, 61 injuries and nearly $50 million in property damage — already pales in comparison to the damage done by last week’s tornado system

Gov. Andy Beshear said this week there is not yet an official estimate, but the total cost of the damage will be “enormous.” Though it’s too soon to know the financial toll, state and local disaster preparedness plans reviewed by KyCIR show the potential cost for storm-related losses by calculating the value of homes, industries and other facilities in each county. 

In all, there was more than $18.2 billion at risk of being lost to tornadoes or severe wind in the 12 hardest-hit counties, according to a review of state and local plans preparing for destructive wind. That number is certainly an overestimate of what was destroyed last weekend; it assumes the loss of all assets across each of those counties. 

But the damage across western Kentucky from last weekend’s storms is historic, and the recovery and restoration process will be lengthy, according to Kentucky Emergency Management director Michael E. Dossett.

Federal and state officials are continuing to survey damage, Dossett said. But by Tuesday, state emergency crews had mapped at least 5,000 points of destruction in the 12 counties, Dossett said. 

The earth’s warming climate will lead to more major storms, such as those that hit Kentucky last week, said Jessi Nalepa, communications director for Hagerty Consulting, which specializes in disaster preparation and recovery.

“These things are becoming increasingly more frequent,” she said.

A notable benchmark for storm and weather-related destruction is the billion-dollar mark, Nalepa said. In the first nine months of the year, there were 18 separate billion-dollar disaster events in the United States.

The storms in Kentucky will likely surpass that.

Forecasters with AccuWeather estimate the total damages across the four states hit by the tornadoes will exceed $18 billion — much of the costs will be in Kentucky.

High risks

State officials have long considered tornadoes to pose a significant risk across western Kentucky. The threat is especially high in the counties in the path of last week’s deadly tornado front: Fulton, Hickman, Graves, Marshall, Lyon, Caldwell, Christian, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Breckinridge and Warren.

Hazard mitigation plans are completed every six years by officials in the state’s 15 area development districts, quasi-state entities that help connect local, state and federal officials. The separate plans are then compiled into the statewide hazard mitigation plan, maintained by the state’s Division of Emergency Management.

Local officials conduct a “collaborative analysis” of previous and potential disasters when they update hazard mitigation plans, said Tony Wilder, the executive director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts.

“There are always lessons learned,” he said.

Here’s how to apply for FEMA disaster relief, and what to avoid

Last Friday’s storm carved through four states and stretched more than 220 miles. As of Thursday, 76 people in Kentucky had died in connection with the storm, and 16 people were still missing — 15 from Hopkins County alone.

The county plans show the hardest-hit counties were home to: 

  • more than 428,000 people
  • 158,000 homes 
  • hundreds of local and state owned critical facilities — like schools, government buildings, hospitals, sewage and power plants. 

During a press conference Tuesday, Dossett said emergency crews and volunteers are still in the “blue tarp” phase of response — trying to protect damaged homes from winter rains and salvage the ones they can. 

‘Random and unpredictable’

Graves County was among the most damaged by tornadoes last week. The county seat, Mayfield, suffered severe destruction.

Disbelief among the rubble: Mayfield community stunned by tornado’s destruction

There are more than 16,000 homes in Graves County, and $1.1 billion worth of critical infrastructure, according to the hazard mitigation plans. Dossett on Tuesday didn’t address the overall scope of the damage, but he said the power grid in Mayfield “doesn’t exist.”

When a tornado strikes, nothing is considered safe, according to the county’s mitigation plan.

“Any area in the county is as vulnerable as another and the events are completely random and unpredictable,” the plan states.

Despite the risk and the regularity of tornadoes in the county — 17 were recorded between 2008 and 2018 — the mitigation plan offers little detail about specific measures to prevent destruction or death during a violent storm.

But it does offer a grim warning.

“Graves County can and has suffered frequent tornado events,” the plan states. “Any one of those events could be especially ruinous to the county.”

‘More frequent’

The National Weather Service Paducah field office covers the 22-county region in far western Kentucky. It reported 232 observed tornadoes between June 2005 and Sept. 2018 — more than the state’s other two field offices in Louisville and eastern Kentucky, combined.

Still, the state’s costliest tornado in recent years struck in eastern Kentucky in 2012. That storm tore through six counties, ultimately causing more than $148 million in damages. 

That storm traveled more than 20 miles and caused six deaths, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Since then, there have been more than 181 tornadoes across the state — and more than 60% were in western Kentucky. 

Just six of the storms occurred during the month of December, according to the environmental data.

Winter storms will become more frequent as the climate warms, and officials say the so-called “tornado alley” — traditionally in the central plains region of the county — is moving to the midwest and south

Kentucky sits squarely in the middle of these shifting storm patterns.

Contact Jacob Ryan at jryan@kycir.org.

The post In western Kentucky, tornadoes are frequent — and put billions at risk appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Louisville Nature Center to host free tree giveaway Wednesday, Nov 10 2021 

The center said it plans to give 450 trees and shrubs to Jefferson County residents during a free event on Nov. 13.

        

Campus Trees Celebrated on Arbor Day Monday, Nov 1 2021 

By Anthony Riley–

Held Friday at the garden commons, UofL celebrated Arbor day with a host of tree-related activities, commemorating UofL’s longstanding status as a ‘Tree Campus” every year since 2010. In a workshop led by UofL’s Justin Mog, students helped plant new trees at the garden commons and learned about campus trees and plants, along with upcoming campus grounds projects–such as the student pavilion planned for the space in front of the new Belknap Academic Building. Students could also drink smoothies made with fruit found on campus trees–including persimmon and apple–that were blended up by an electricity-free bicycle-powered blender. Students could also pick up grow kits including native plant species and learn about ways to grow their own trees and plants.

Photos by Anthony Riley//the Louisville Cardinal

The post Campus Trees Celebrated on Arbor Day appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

‘Don’t step on them’: How to safely remove stink bugs Monday, Oct 11 2021 

Stink bugs can last until the first winter freeze.

        

Stink bugs invasion season is here; Here’s how to keep safely get rid of them Sunday, Oct 10 2021 

As it gets cooler outside, the brown marmorated bugs look for warmth and inside your nice, cozy home is just the place.

        

‘It lasted about 10-15 minutes’: Kentucky woman captures amazing video of waterspout while on vacation Saturday, Aug 28 2021 

“It was the first one I had ever seen! It was exciting to witness," Shari Klosterman said of the video she captured in Gulf Shores.

        

In West End, Sewer Odors Are A Long-Standing Problem Tuesday, Aug 10 2021 

 

Lily Burris

James Krebs, a utility worker with MSD, cleans a catch basin on 42nd Street.

Every time Teri Carr has company at her home in Park DuValle, she worries about the potential smells from the street.

The odors are offensive and embarrassing — like sewage or feces, a chemical smell or rotten eggs. Sometimes they’re so strong they wake her up in the middle of the night.

Each time, she dutifully registers a complaint with the city, hoping something will change.

“I have to deal with my quality of life,” Carr said. “It’s a shame I may have to move from this neighborhood – not necessarily for crime, but for quality of air.”

Lily Burris

Teri Carr

The Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District concedes the sewers in Park DuValle and many neighborhoods in the West End of Louisville have odor issues. Six years of data show MSD has received the most odor complaints — more than 400 — from the 40211 zip code, which includes the Park DuValle and Chickasaw neighborhoods, and a portion of Russell.

Nearly all of the rest of the high-complaint zip codes are in the West End, which is predominantly Black, historically underserved by city services and closest to the state’s oldest and biggest wastewater treatment plant.

Congressman John Yarmuth recently announced preliminary approval from Congress for a federal appropriation package of more than $5 million for Louisville projects, $480,000 of which are designated to address odors in the sewers of the Park DuValle neighborhood.

But the money isn’t guaranteed, and the demand isn’t new. The MSD has until the end of next year to comply with an order from the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District to mitigate the problems with West End sewers.

MSD officials said they’ll find a way to complete the work eventually, even without federal money. They say the sewer odor, while inconvenient, isn’t hazardous. That’s little comfort to Carr.

“Even if it is just offensive, I don’t want it in my backyard,” Carr said.

Age, Location and the System

Sewers in the Park DuValle area range from 100 years old to 20, but regardless of when they were built, they feed into the combined sewer system that once dumped into the Ohio River.
The combined sewer system is mostly within I-264 toward the Ohio River. This includes all of the West End and other neighborhoods like Cherokee Triangle, the Highlands and Clifton. Now, this system takes wastewater and stormwater in the same pipe to the water treatment plant.

About two-thirds of the county’s waste is gravity-fed into the Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment Center on the Algonquin Parkway — two miles east of Carr’s house in Park DuValle.

“[The waste] gets larger and slower as you get closer to the plant,” said Rachael Hamilton, interim director of the Metro Air Pollution Control District, which monitors air quality standards and residents’ complaints.

Hamilton called the odors in the West End an environmental justice issue.

“That’s really a vestige of redlining in this community,” Hamilton said.

When stagnant waste combines with dry weather, Hamilton said, the odor can be really strong. An event like that in 2019 prompted the board to issue a legally binding, agreed order with MSD to correct the problem.

When MSD investigated the issue in Park DuValle, they inspected 198 catch basins. More than half were missing necessary equipment to seal off odor.

Brian Bingham, MSD’s chief operations officer, said the work in Park DuValle to repair these catch basins is their first major initiative to complete the terms of the order.

The cost for repairing a catch basin can vary from $1,500 to $20,000 depending on what needs to be done, Bingham said. While this current project is focused on the West End, he said it’s not the only place with these issues according to MSD.

“Not all this problem is in West Louisville,” Bingham said. “This problem exists to some level throughout the entire combined sewer system as it does with every combined sewer system and every combined sewer city in the country.”

Of nearly 3,000 odor complaints from 2015 through 2020, more than a third came from zip codes in the West End.

The Cause of Odors

Catch basin traps are similar to the j-shaped pipes seen under sinks in homes, which holds water to reduce smells. It’s this equipment that’s faulty across much of Park DuValle. “On days when we have lots of heat, no rain, the water gets stagnant,” said James Krebs, a utility worker with MSD who cleans catch basins. “All the organic materials and people cutting their grass, leaves start breaking down in there and it creates a smell. We get a lot of odor complaints with that.”

Last month, Krebs operated a small crane arm on 42nd Street to clean a catch basin with an odor complaint. Workers access the sewer system via brown, rusted metal sewer drains. Underneath those drains are catch basins — along with waste and trash. Trash gets shoved down into sewer drains and piled up on top of the grates. The under-the-street sludge can make whole neighborhoods smell.

Lily Burris

Trash accumulating in a sewer on 42nd Street

Krebs’ crane arm reaches down into the catch basin and, scoop by scoop, pulls out the organic matter and trash and drops it into a small dump truck.

And Krebs sprinkles deodorizing pellets into the drain.

The whole endeavor took Krebs about 15 minutes.

The dump truck takes the goop, for lack of a better word, to one of MSD’s facilities where a bigger truck takes it to the garbage dump.

This process will repeat itself thousands of times as MSD’s $6 million project to address sewer odor issues in the West End gets underway. MSD identified five priority neighborhoods: Park DuValle, Shawnee, California, Chickasaw and Taylor Berry.

Bingham, the MSD chief operations officer, said their plans for Park DuValle are on a bigger scale than previous projects. Odor mitigation is already embedded in a lot of other projects they do, Bingham said, so it’s hard to calculate the investment comparatively, but he estimates they already spend about $2 million across the county on odor mitigation each year.

MSD estimates the Park DuValle work alone will cost nearly $1 million, including master planning and communication efforts.

Residents say there’s a lot of catching up to do. Jimmy Henderson, Sr. grew up in Park DuValle.

“As far as I can remember, you know, I can remember my parents talking about it,” he said of the smell.

It’s not just the sewers — he said there are sewage smells as well as chemical smells from the Rubbertown factories just southwest. Overall, he said there’s a lack of respect for this part of town — so he appreciates that MSD is prioritizing the West End.

“I know, for a fact, they have spent money, a lot of money, trying to rectify some of those problems,” Henderson said.

Carr said she and her neighbors in Park DuValle hope that whatever work they do results in improved air quality. She’s bought air filters, essential oils and anything she thinks will help.

“I don’t want them to get this money and then they do all of these things and we still smell what we smell, and don’t understand how what they did benefited us,” she said.

Lily Burris was a summer fellow at WFPL and KyCIR. She’s a senior at Western Kentucky University. 

The post In West End, Sewer Odors Are A Long-Standing Problem appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Clarksville launches new initiative to combat extreme heat Monday, Jul 19 2021 

The program will study the summer heat’s effects on residents and develop local strategies to mitigate public health impacts.

        

Next Page »