Flash Flood Shuts Down Louisville Public Library

Adrian Versteegh

Flooding provoked three days ago by sudden rains in Louisville, Kentucky, has caused an estimated $5 million in damage to the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. The building—said to be the worst-hit in the city—will be closed to the public until at least Labor Day, with restoration work continuing throughout the remainder of the year.

Tuesday morning’s downpour brought seven inches of rain in seventy-five minutes, backing up sewers and quickly inundating low-lying sections of the city. “The water was in the library within minutes,” library director Craig Buthod told Library Journal. “We began trying to move books, computers, furniture, off the floors. We had to evacuate staff from the lower level and prepare for the worst.” An estimated fifty thousand books were destroyed, Buthod said, along with boilers, elevators, and other electrical equipment. Also lost were three of the library’s bookmobiles, two service vehicles, and three personal cars belonging to staff.

While most other branches of the Louisville public library remain open, the system’s Web site notes that internet service is currently unavailable at all locations. Insurance is expected to cover the costs of repairs.

The last time Louisville’s main library suffered flood damage was in 1937, when the Ohio River—a mile-and-a-half away—overran its banks.