“They’re just gone” | An up-close look at the damage Eastern Kentucky flooding left behind

Meteorologist Paige Noel spent a week in Hazard and experienced the devastation firsthand.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WVLT/WYMT) - Nearly one month after devastating flooding hit Eastern Kentucky, help is still needed in the mountains.

“This one mom looked at me and she said I don’t know and she just started to break down, and then you ask those questions, how many people are in your family and she had five boys and a girl and so they need blankets, they need towels they need the absolute bare minimum right now, they don’t have anything,” said WVLT First Alert Meteorologist Paige Noel.

Noel is the former Chief Meteorologist at WYMT, the sister station of WVLT located in Hazard, Kentucky.

Helping give members of the WYMT Weather Team a break, Paige worked in Hazard for a week as the region continued to grapple with the after-effects of historic flooding.

Paige and her fiance, Tommy Pool, volunteered at the old JCPenney building where flooding victims can come out and get needed items.

The duo drove from Hazard to Jackson to see the devastation firsthand.

“Where there were once homes there are no homes anymore they’re just gone, they’re just not even there, that’s the worst part and then you see these creeks and streams you can see where the water was. People have compared it to hurricane Katrina and until you’re up here you’re kind of like that’s not true, but it is. It kind of looks like the damage, I’ve seen tornadoes, I’ve seen the damage tornadoes have done and it’s like that but on a larger scale, more widespread,” said Noel.

Paige noted it’s a drive anyone who has worked at WYMT has made hundreds of times, but it was almost unrecognizable.

“They were homes, with foundations you can see that too there are sometimes homes too that are just off their foundation completely there are bricks there a shed that was on the side of the road it was in somebody’s yard at one point, now its been moved to the side of the road and you’re like how did that happen, and there’s just stuff everywhere,” said Noel.

Paige talked with officials who say they’re thankful for the help they’ve received, which is a lot, but they see the help leaving slowly and fear the long terms cleanup that will be needed, will be hard to come by.

WVLT’s Will Puckett will be reporting in Hazard for a week turning reports for WYMT and WVLT.