Thu, May 24, 2018 08:41 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
When it rains, it pours and creeks overflow
by Susan Allen

BIG SANDY REGION — Several counties in the Big Sandy Region were hit hard again by flood waters Monday and Tuesday after six days of steady rainfall with Floyd County being declared a state of emergency.

Several areas in Floyd County were flooded Monday and again Tuesday which resulted in scores of homes having water in them and some areas evacuated.

“It’s like a war zone,” Floyd DES director Eddie Patton said Tuesday.

Residents at Orchard Fork in the Melvin area were evacuated Tuesday, Patton said, and 87-year-old Lizzie Thornsberry was reportedly trapped in her home near the Weeksbury Community Park.

“We opened the Emergency Operations Center last night (Monday) and we reopened at 8 this morning,” Patton said. “I’ve been here since eight o’ clock and I’m on my 41st call back (to residents).”

Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson declared a state of emergency early Tuesday and asked that travel in the Left Beaver and Middle Creek areas be restricted.

As the day wore on Tuesday, roads were closed in the McDowell area and there were reports of people trapped in homes in various places, including Estill Bottom on Right Beaver.

On Monday homes on Ky. 114 near Parkway Connection were flooded, as well as 12 units at Parkway Apartments in the same area, Patton said.

“As a ballpark, conservative estimate, I’d say 40-50 homes have water in them and that’s not counting those in the Orchard Fork and Spewing Camp areas.”

Waters were rising in the old McDowell school Tuesday where volunteers for the Appalachian Service Project, who are working on low income housing homes, are staying, Patton said.

“It was about an inch in their office,” Patton said. “I reckon Spewing Camp washed out, too. It’s hell.”

Patton suspected that areas between Orchard Fork and Spewing Camp, which is just above McDowell, were also hit hard.

Several families on the Left Fork of Abbott were stranded after a bridge was washed out by the flooding, he added. The area of Rough and Tough near Prestonsburg was also hard hit.

Anyone wanting to report damages or needing assistance is asked to call the operations center at 886-9678. The center is located on the second floor of the old courthouse next door to the old driver licensing office, Patton said.

The emergency declaration will allow county officials to seek state and federal assistance for residents, Patton said.

There were also numerous mud and rock slides reported throughout the county.

In Johnson County, national weather reports forecast a few bands of rains for the area, but conditions are expected to slack off over the next few days.

“Jackson (weather officials) seem to think we’re pretty much out of the woods,” Ray Reeder, Johnson County deputy director of emergency management, said Tuesday.

As surrounding counties prepared for flash flooding, Reeder said Johnson County will likely be left to deal with some localized flooding, “but nothing we can’t handle.”

Reeder said local officials were preparing to deal with runoff of the Big Sandy River from Pike and Floyd counties, which were forecasted to receive the blunt of the force from rain.

On Monday, local officials received various reports related to flooding. Those reports included water-covered roads in the Greenrock area, downed trees and mudslides.

In Magoffin

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Magoffin County Fiscal Court, Judge-Executive Bill May announced that he is in the process of asking the state to declare a disaster in Magoffin County due to recent flooding.

At Tuesday’s meeting, May said that major areas of flood destruction included Big Lick, Bear Tree and Rock House.

May said that he was asking for $1 million in flood relief to replace washed out culverts, bridges and roadways but that he had not heard anything from the state on the status of his request.

He asked residents affected by the flooding to be patient.

“We want to help,” May said Tuesday, “and we will help.”

BSN staff writers Chris McDavid and Leigh Ann Ward contributed to this article.

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