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‘It’s a bad situation’: Pike County communities impacted by Monday flooding

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 1:02 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Floodwaters poured through areas of Pike County Monday, bringing out rescue squads and other officials as cars were stuck and people were stranded by the flash flooding.

Pike County Emergency Management, Kentucky State Police, Coal Run Fire Department and Pikeville Fire Department stayed in the Stone Coal area to keep an eye on the situation as the waters receded, sending rescue teams with swift water rescue gear to bring people to safety.

“We just work hand-in-hand together, just trying to get these people out and get them safe,” said Pikeville Fire Chief Patrick Bentley.

On Cowpen Road, the water blocked the roadway for hours, forcing some families to find ways to get to their loved ones.

“Water was over the creek... over the bridge. It started coming in their yard and around the trailer,” said Belinda Bentley, whose grandchildren live on Cowpen. “Eventually [my son] walked through the grass to get to the babies. Now we’re just waiting for the water to completely reside so we can get to them and get them out.”

As clean-up begins and more severe weather may be a possibility in the days to come, rescue crews urge people to remember the importance of staying safe and calling for help instead of taking matters into your own hands, saying there is never a reason to drive through water on roadways.

“Don’t drive through water. It is very dangerous because you really can’t tell how deep it is. It could be washed away through there- could be washed away underneath the road,” said Chief Bentley.

Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones declared a state of emergency as several other areas like Blackberry, Phelps, and Stone were also hit hard.

“We’ve got considerable damage damage,” Jones said. “Predominantly in the Blackberry Creek area.”

Monday night, the entire Blackberry community was without electricity with crews on site, cleaning up trees and working to get powerlines lifted and reconnected.

With homes and businesses impacted, and the fire department “destroyed,” Jones said he hopes people in the community will stay indoors and safe, keeping the roadways open to the crews at work.

The fire department was unable to access its equipment at the Blackberry Creek station for hours Monday because of flooding- a common issue with the station when waters rise. Jones said they are planning to officially move the department to a better space soon to make sure it never happens again.

“They had calls coming in, but they couldn’t get tot he equipment. They couldn’t respond,” Jones said. “This is not the first time we’ve had this type of weather event. This was un-forecast. No one expected this to happen and it happened without warning. These mountains are beautiful, but they just don’t handle the runoff.”

Jones said he remains concerned about the upcoming weather and continued runoff that the area is seeing and electricity is expected to be off for the community through the night.

“A lot of people are still just trying to just get the mud and stuff out from around their homes,” said Jones. “We are concerned about what’s likely to happen later tonight and over the next couple of days. It’s a bad situation and we hope it doesn’t get worse.”

He said the concern now is not about public federal assistance for the infrastructure, but whether the area will qualify for private assistance to help the community members get back on their feet once the weather passes.

“From what we’ve heard, there probably will be. But we’ve not made a complete assessment yet,” he said.

Tuesday will include more work and assessments to see the true impact of Monday’s rainfall.

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