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Death toll expected to rise in flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky

Karyn Czar
Karyn Czar

The death toll continues to rise in Eastern Kentucky where flash floods prompted Governor Andy Beshear to issue states of emergency and deploy the National Guard in multiple counties. WUKY’s Karyn Czar reports.

Homes and businesses are underwater. Roadways are washed out. Emergency response teams are exhausted but continue to search for survivors here in Hindman and Hazard, two of the hardest hit cities. Beverly Daugherty spent hours in floodwaters alongside her neighbors praying for help. The raging water was so strong, some of her clothing was ripped away, but she said she didn’t care. She was able to hang on to her dog Roxie.

Daugherty and her neighbor Lisa Robinson had been through storms before, both dealt with flooding less than two years ago. But Robinson, whose home still was being repaired from the previous bout with Mother Nature thinks this time, she lost everything.

Rescuers were finally able to reach them by boat and get them and the six pets between them to safety but both unsure what to do next. The town was sealed off because of rising water. Robinson said she will always call Hindman home, but after living through yet another flood, is going to consider moving close to her daughter in Georgetown.

EKY Floods WRAP 2.mp3

That’s the sound of water rushing through the drain at the bottom of the dam in Jackson. The water level on the opposite side is about 40 feet above me and pushing against the dam with such force, it’s bubbling up and draining at my feet. Stephen Bowling is the Public Information Officer for the Jackson Fire Department.

Bowling and I head back to the top of the dam. It’s about one in the morning and the blackness is cut by a few flood lights from the nearby fire department and the occasional headlights of buses evacuating people from the neighborhoods below. The water is swirling, and the level still rising.

In the distance you can hear the crackling of power lines hitting the water. Bowling isn’t fazed. He’s been through this before and says “whether the dam lives or the dam dies’ they will go on.”

Karyn Czar joined the WUKY News team July 1, 2013, but she's no stranger to radio.