I can still remember it like it was yesterday, April 4, 1977. I was a senior at Harlan High School. It started like any other rainy Monday, but this was no ordinary day. By nightfall, much of the county was underwater. More than seven inches of rain fell within a 24-hour period. The booming voice of Big Jim Morgan on WHLN radio providing calm in the midst of a storm unlike any we had ever seen.
My mind often drifts back to that night and the days and weeks that followed. My home was spared, but my grandparents and many of my friends were not as fortunate. I remember the crackling voice of my grandmother telling us they were leaving their home. The water was only inches from their doorstep and rising rapidly. It was a long, sleepless night, but the worst was still yet to come.
As the waters receded the task of digging out and cleaning up began. I will never forget the look of dismay and defeat that etched across my grandparents faces as we walked back in to their home. Everything was destroyed. The basement was filled with several feet of mud. The main living quarters wasn’t much better. The water mark was evident. More than six feet of water had stood where my grandparents once ate, slept and prayed.
Defeat quickly gave way to determination. They were not about to give in to the river. The process of rebuilding began. It would take days, weeks and months to put their lives and their home back together. Our family was steadfast, our faith strengthened. We worked long hours shoveling mud, scrubbing, cleaning and rebuilding. I remember watching as my grandmother painstakingly looked through each and every precious memory. Sorting out what she could save and struggling to throw away those items which were lost to the mud and river. Each one washed in her tears.
I think back to those days every time there is a flood. Today, many of our neighbors are dealing with those same trials and tribulations. Their homes and businesses destroyed, their lives tossed about by the raging river.
Many of you have called our Newsroom asking how you can help. That’s what makes Eastern Kentucky so special. In times like this, no one is a stranger. We are all family. And here in the mountains, family takes care of family. That’s why WYMT is teaming up with the American Red Cross and God’s Pantry Food Bank.
Please join us Wednesday, May 20th from 5pm to 8pm on WYMT-TV and www.wymtnews.com for the East Kentucky Flood Relief Telethon. All donations will benefit Eastern Kentucky flood victims.
You can also mail your donations to the following addresses:
God's Pantry Food Bank
1685 Jaggie Fox Way
Lexington, KY 40511
American Red Cross
Big Sandy Area Chapter
American Red Cross
113 South Central Ave.
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
Mid East Kentucky Chapter
American Red Cross, P.O. Box 69
West Liberty, KY 41472
Please mark all checks for East Kentucky Flood Relief
We will have several special guests Wednesday night including former UK and NFL quarterback Tim Couch. Country music duo Halfway To Hazard will also be in our studios for a special performance. We hope you join us for the East Kentucky Flood Relief Telethon Wednesday, May 20th from 5pm-8pm. You can make a difference.
As always, thanks for making WYMT-TV your source for news and information. We appreciate your trust.
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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do. -Eleanor Roosevelt