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Reports Says Flood Walls May Be Needed In Pikeville

A new report says flood walls may be needed in Pike County if there's a major flood.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say they've been studying flooding dangers in Pike County and believe a massive flood like what happened in 1977 would destroy most homes and businesses on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River.

The flood of 1977 may have been almost 30 years ago, but those who live in Pike County still remember the devastation well.

"A sight to behold, water everywhere. People lost everything they had," said Jeff Anderson who lives in the flood zone.

"We don't ever want to go through that again," said Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.

A new report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it can happen again unless new floodwalls are built.

"If you're on the river side of U.S. 23, chances are you would have water in your home or business if we had that same flood today," said Mark Kessinger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Engineers say flood walls and gates are needed on U.S. 23 in Coal Run, in north Pikeville, and another one by Pikeville High School.

"We can't eliminate the flooding, but we're trying to minimize the damage as a result of the flood," Kessinger said.

"This is great news," Rutherford said.

Pikeville school officials are also excited. Right now they can't use land near the river because of flooding dangers, but a flood wall means they could use it.

"We would be gaining at least 40 feet from the current parking spaces out to the flood wall," said Pikeville Independent School Superintendent Jerry Green.

But the plan isn't good for all.

"I'm concerned like a lot of homeowners are," Anderson said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says at least two thousand homes and businesses either have to be raised 12 feet or move to new locations.

"There's gonna be some tough decisions that have to be made in the future," Anderson said.

But no one wants to lose their home or business to another flood.

The report is now in Washington D.C. for final approval. There's no timeline for the project set yet because engineers say the federal government still has to determine how and when they will pay for it.


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