The level of Lake Cumberland has fallen nearly 15 feet since it reached a record high in late February but more than 23 million gallons of water a minute are still being released through Wolf Creek Dam, flooding the Cumberland River and adversely affecting areas below the dam. The lake is still about 19 feet above the tree line.
Greg Cary, emergency management director in Cumberland County, said Tuesday five homes are still under water in the southern part of the county south of Burkesville, and one home is flooded in the northern part of the county.
Russell County Judge-Executive Gary D. Robertson said the Cumberland River is still running too high to make a complete damage assessment but he made an emergency declaration a couple of weeks ago. Robertson said more than 15 cabins in the Manntown area are under water " ... (it is a vacation area) but people live there," he said. The Manntown area is below Wolf Creek Dam near Kendall Recreation Area.
A couple of bridges, one on the Logan Mantle Road and another near Creelsboro, a Russell County community near the Cumberland River, also are submerged. These are among four or five roads still closed in Russell County, the judge-executive indicated.
Most of flooding damage in Pulaski County has not been determined because the lake is still covering recreational areas. Mike Boles, resource manager for Lake Cumberland, said Tuesday morning the water is still over parking areas at Waitsboro Recreation Area, already projected to be closed the entire upcoming vacation season because of suspected damage.
On the brighter side, water has receded below the causeway leading to General Burnside Island State Park and the facility, including the golf course, reopened to the public last Thursday (March 7).
"The staff got on the island last Tuesday and Wednesday (March 5-6) for cleanup," said a spokesman at the park. "The boat ramp is still blocked (and not useable)," he said.
Kim Norfleet, manager of Pulaski County Park, said she has not been to the park this week. Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said earlier high water had covered most of the camping areas and will delay planned expansion of the beach area.
After almost constant rain during most of February, runoff pushed Lake Cumberland to 756.51 feet above sea level, 33 feet above the tree line and almost 4 feet higher than it had ever been. The lake is an impoundment of the Cumberland River which drains almost 18,000 square miles of southern Kentucky and north-central Tennessee. The river flows generally west from a source in the Appalachian Mountains into Lake Cumberland and then to Nashville and west to Barkley Dam and to its confluence with the Ohio River near Paducah.
Under normal conditions, Lake Cumberland would operate on what is called a SEPA Curve, acronym for Southeastern Power Administration, the agency that buys hydropower produced by the six generators at Wolf Creek Dam. The SEPA Curve raises the lake, beginning in February, from a wintertime level of about 700 feet to summertime pool at the tree line by May 15. Corps officials say it may be months before the lake returns to normal levels.