KY mops up

BY PJ HELLER | LEXINGTON, KY | March 25, 2002



"The water came up so fast we didn't have time to save anything"

—Kimberly Evans, Dayhoit, KY


As Kentucky residents mopped up from the worst flooding in 25 years, voluntary groups were working to help those most in need.

The state's voluntary agencies and faith-based groups met Friday to discuss short-term and long-term needs and coordinate efforts.

A donations hotline (888-289-0022) was established.

Hundreds of people who lost everything are emotionally and physically devastated.

Harlan County was hard hit by flooding along with Bell, Knox, McCreary, and Whitley counties. A total of 17 Kentucky counties had made emergency declarations Friday. In Harlan, some 20 businesses -- without insurance -- were damaged or destroyed. More than 3,600 gallons of water have been shipped to the community.

Emergency response officials were not only concerned about the high residential loss but also about damage to water systems and the environmentla impact of hazardous materials that may have leaked during flooding.

Faith-based and community groups reached out to the flooded South, sending relief supplies and trained volunteers into the area this week.

Many major denominational disaster response groups were planning a response, and some already had community development programs in place in Appalachia.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) conducted preliminary damage assessments and found that Smyth County and Big Stone Gap, VA were hard hit. Sneedville, TN was also heavily damaged, along with many parts of eastern Kentucky.

UMCOR shipped 700 flood buckets filled with cleaning supplies to these areas along with several power washers.

UMCOR and other denominational groups reported they are planning to issue financial appeals for cash donations.

Scores more homes and businesses were inundated Thursday, adding to the hundreds of homes already destroyed or damaged in what Kentucky emergency management is calling the worst flooding in 25 years.

Families in Harlan and Olive Hill were cleaning up Thursday while new flooding spread from Ashland to Winchester. Severe flood damage was reported in Morehead, Rush, and Cannonsburg.

Thousands in the region were forced to evacuate earlier in the week as flash floods struck.

Kentucky and West Virginia were particularly hard hit late Wednesday, when up to four inches of rain fell on top of another six earlier in the week.

In the town of Olive Hill, KY, up to 70 percent of homes and businesses were damaged, some of which were above the 100-year flood plain.

Seven people died in the south as a result of this week's flooding, and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged.

Along the Ohio River border between West Virgnia and Ohio, some six inches of rain fell Tuesday alone.

In southwestern Virginia, flash floods temporarily displaced 1,000 people.

In Kentucky, The Salvation Army was working with the American Red Cross to temporarily house displace families in Pineville.

Harlan County, where at least 70 homes were destroyed, was particularly hard hit. Christ Hands, an outreach program and homeless shelter, was also sheltering some 40 people from Harlan County.

The National Guard was still on site late Wednesday to assist with rescue and cleanup in Rowan County, KY, as well.

The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management reported late Wednesday that many roads were still inaccessible and damage assessments could not begin for many areas still under water. Some roads are blocked by standing water, others by mudslides that have hit the state.

Residents in Tennessee and Virginia also saw major flooding over the past several days.

Ray Bowman of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management said at least 500 homes were destroyed or severely damaged. No deaths or serious injuries were reported.

"The water came up so fast we didn't have time to save anything," said Kimberly Evans of Dayhoit.


Related Topics:

Solutions for flood insurance

How US flood insurance works

Volunteers build a Christmas present


More links on Flooding

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