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‘I don’t know where to start. We have nothing’: Flood cleanup begins in Oneida

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:14 PM EST
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CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Sunday night’s rainfall left much of the community of Oneida underwater.

“We watched it go up basically all night long,” said Mary Spellman who lives a couple of miles outside of Oneida.

Spellman and her family have lived in Oneida for nearly 20 years. She says her house has never been flooded. Now, the whole house is damaged by floodwaters.

“We’ve worked all of our lives just to accomplish what we have and now we don’t have nothing,” she said.

All the flooring and plumbing was ripped out as well as the insolation under the trailer. Several of their vehicles also were submerged in water.

“I don’t know where to start. I’ve never been through something like this,” said Spellman.

Spellman says she knows with time, material things will be replaced, but her main worry now is for her three children.

“I don’t know where to start to give them their home back. It really bothers me,” she said.

Down the road on River Street, water from the South Fork of the Kentucky River covered homes and businesses. One of those businesses was Bowlings Town Market.

“We’re just shoveling mud and scraping mud and squeegeeing and I guess we’ll get to the point we can take water to it,” said Barbara Bowling, whose son owns the store.

About four feet of water came into the market ruining nearly everything in stock including the drinks the coolers.

“Everything on these bottom shelves candy, snacks cartons of pop in the back there,” said Bowling.

They have been shoveling mud for two days and still have weeks ahead before the market can re-open.

“He’s gonna try his best to get it done and come back,” said Bowling.

Bowling says the community is pulling together and many have stopped by to offer to help in the cleanup process.

Oneida Community Church also had about four feet of water pour into the basement. It destroyed thousands of dollars worth of coolers, appliances, freezers, Sunday school rooms and food for the monthly food drive.

“We did salvage some van stuff back here but anything else we’ve had to just dump it,” said Pastor Todd Hicks.

Hicks says it will take years to build back, but the memories are gone forever.

“We’re all just poor people trying to make it day by day and you know I’m glad God has blessed us good enough we’ll regain and the Lord will provide. He always has,” said Hicks.

Oneida Baptist Institute also had damage, but the floodwaters spared most of the buildings.

About 10 feet of water covered the athletic fields and bus garage destroying mowers, tractors, fencing and washed away their batting cages.

President Larry Gritton says while it is tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, they are turning their efforts to help the community.

”We’ve been giving out food and some of our people have been cooking meals for firefighters and different people that are helping here in the community,” said Gritton. “Mountain people are good people. Sometimes can be a little prideful maybe not even want some help even when they need it but we’ve been blessed to be able to bless people of our community.”

Many church groups and organizations are donating money and supplies. The school is being used as a drop-off point for many supplies to be distributed to those in need.

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