Study underway to fix "design deficiencies" from project in Harlan Co. community

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LOYALL, Ky. (WYMT) - In the late 1990s' the Army Corps of Engineers completed a much-needed project in the Loyall community of Harlan County. The project focused on controlling floods that had become synonymous with the Loyall area. The project worked, but design deficiencies left the people in the area with new problems.

A waterway that was supposed to help keep a nearby river flowing after diverting the Cumberland River has become clogged with debris, creating stagnation and a cesspool.

The nearby Wix-Howard cemetery, a historic cemetery that was in the project's path, has been collapsing for years. Some graves have been removed and there are plans for more grave moment in the future.

"They don't have a flood risk, but now they have somewhat of a public health risk," said Harlan County's judge-executive, Dan Mosley.

Mosley said the cesspool has not only created a problem with bugs in the area but a bad smell too.

"That's what's creating the mosquito problem, that's what's creating just a really nasty situation for the citizens who live there," said Mosley.

For people living in the area, they know all too well about the "nasty" situation there. Clark Bailey has lived in Loyall for roughly 28 years. He remembers when the Army Corps of Engineers came in and solved the flooding issue.

"We had mosquitos and nats and bugs like we do now but not anywhere near the volume we have now," said Bailey. "You kind of have to plan around how you do stuff if you want to work outside."

After nearly 20 years, plans to fix the problems are on the horizon. The Army Corps of Engineers announced they secured funding to conduct a study in the area on how to fix the project.

"There's just never been any movement prior to now so we're thankful the corps is doing the study," said Mosley.

Mosley said in fall a meeting will be held to announce the results of the study, and hopefully move forward in solving the issue.

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