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Flooding devastates eastern Kentucky, more rain expected

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Ohio Valley ReSource
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Katie Myers

Eastern Kentuckians are living through one of the most devastating floods in state history.

Torrential rains rolled in Wednesday night, washing away homes and submerged entire downtowns by Thursday morning.

Heavy storms area expected to return to the area Thursday night, and more rain is forecast through the weekend, potentially compounding an already massive disaster.

The National Weather Service declared a flood watch for all of eastern Kentucky.

State officials confirmed three deaths by Thursday afternoon, but the total is expected to rise.

In Hindman, KY, Troublesome Creek broke through its banks, flooding the entire downtown.

Eastern Kentucky is one of the most vulnerable areas for flooding, according to an Ohio Valley Resource analysis of data that accounts for the effects of climate change.

Particularly at-risk areas include seven eastern Kentucky counties–Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin and Martin–which were all impacted by recent flooding.

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In Whitesburg, OVR partner Appalshop’s first floor flooded after water breached the banks of the North Fork Kentucky River.

State officials are asking people to stay home and let emergency responders coordinate rescue efforts.

Gov. Andy Beshear set up the Team Eastern Kentucky Relief Fund, similar to the initiative set up after last year’s tornadoes in western Kentucky.

Beshear also opened up three state resort parks–Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Buckhorn and Pine Mountain State Resort Park–for families displaced by the flood.

The Ohio Valley Resource will be updating a list of opportunities to donate, volunteer and help as the recovery effort continues.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
Katie Myers is covering economic transition in east Kentucky for the ReSource and partner station WMMT in Whitesburg, KY. She previously worked directly with communities in Kentucky and Tennessee on environmental issues, energy democracy, and the digital divide, and is a founding member of a community-owned rural ISP. She has also worked with the Black in Appalachia project of East Tennessee PBS. In her spare time, Katie likes to write stage plays, porch sit with friends, and get lost on mountain backroads. She has published work with Inside Appalachia, Scalawag Magazine, the Daily Yonder, and Belt Magazine, among others.
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