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WKYT team coverage of flooding, road conditions

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 9:00 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Our WKYT team is out and about tracking road conditions and flooding after the weekend’s wet weather.

Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency due to heavy weekend rainfall across Kentucky.

According to Gov. Beshear’s office, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management State Emergency Operations Center is activated and monitoring reports from county emergency services agencies.

This story will update as our crews send in more information.

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Madison County

Overnight, we heard of a number of roads in Madison County that were either partially covered or completely overrun by floodwater.

Like the rest of the area, Madison County was battered with a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Thankfully, once the rain stopped, the conditions began to improve.

“We’re starting to see the water recede,” said Dustin Heiser with Madison County Emergency Management. “When you receive you know upwards of 5 or more inches of rain you are going to see flooding. We received that amount [in] probably less than a 48 hour period.”

One road we were monitoring Monday morning is Red House Road in Northern Madison County. Crews shut that road down between mile marker 10.5 and 10.7, which’s right next to Otter Creek and close to the Kentucky River.

“When you see that much rain you’re going to see issues with your low lying areas of course, but there were some other locations that received flooding but most of them are in lower-lying areas,” Heiser said.

Heiser says they didn’t receive many reports of cars stuck in water or property damage because of flooding.

Magoffin County

Adam Burniston was in Downtown Salyersville Monday morning, and, on his drive in, passed several low-lying areas that are still flooded with some roads even still closed off, but, fortunately, in the downtown area, things are much drier after they experienced major flooding overnight.

Sunday night in the same areas, water covered the roadways and even entered some buildings. At one point, first responders had to evacuate the nursing home in town for safety reasons due to water continuing to rise.

According to the gage along the licking river near Salyersville, the river rose roughly 10 feet in less than 24 hours due to Sunday’s storms and it hasn’t risen to these kinds of levels since 2009.

“Yesterday’s flood was the worst I’ve seen,” said Mayor James Pete Shepherd. “It’s gotten in some houses here that it hadn’t been in for a long time and, in fact, we blocked off three streets in Salyersville, main streets, thoroughfares into Salyersville.”

Chief Carter Conley, Magoffin County Rescue Squad, says they’re continuing to monitor conditions around the county, but, unfortunately, there are some people in rural areas that are stuck in their homes due to flooded roadways.

“US 460 is blocked in about five places and some of those are three, four, five feet deep and we can’t get to anybody,” Conley said. “I mean, we just tell them to try to do what you can, we can’t get to you.”

Some good news is that the Licking River that runs through Magoffin County is finally cresting, but it will probably be until Tuesday before many of these low-lying flooded areas are completely clear.

“Catching our breath today, we’ve still got roads and streets blocked with water, tomorrow we start the cleanup and it’s going to be a chore, to say the least,” said Conley.

Fortunately, officials in Magoffin County say no one was hurt from flooding or rescues, but they won’t know the total cost of damages done by the flooding until the waters recede.

Powell County

At Harbor Light Worship Center in Powell County, the congregation is making meals and collecting donations for their neighbors just down the road who have been impacted by devastating flooding.

Wading in water knee and sometimes waist deep, rescue crews from several agencies launched rescue rafts in Clay City where roads have turned into rivers and homes have become overwhelmed with water.

Pamela Gross is one of 88 people rescued by first responders Monday as they went door to door finding neighbors trapped and needing proverbial life preservers.

“It was just awful. Water coming into houses, people up on top of roofs,” Gross said.

Thankfully no injuries have been reported. Families are safe and together, but they don’t know what’s next.

That’s where the congregation at Harbor Light Worship Center in Stanton is coming into play, making warm meals and collecting donations for families who left their homes with only what they could carry.

“Harbor Light Worship Center is always in help mode. That’s what we feel like God wants us to do. Whether it be flood or hunger or any kind of disaster relief, that’s what we do,” Melanie Watkins said.

Helping those in need as the community they know and love is consumed by flood waters.

“All we can do is be there for them, listen to them, give them things that they need,” Watkins said.

They’re also helping people find places to stay because they’ve been displaced by the flooding. If you need assistance from them, you can call Pastor Jimmy Cole at 606-947-0566.

A water line break near Morris Creek Bridge has limited water access for 30 to 50 customers in higher elevation near the bridge and Church Street in Stanton. The flood waters are making it difficult to reach the broken line, and officials ask people in this area to conserve water for now.

Estill County

We have a crew on Kentucky highway 52, along the section between Elm and Poplar streets, where we’ve watched the flood water rising throughout the day.

“We haven’t seen water like this in my lifetime,” said Estill County Emergency Management’s public information officer Melissa Riddell.

People in Estill County are overwhelmed with the amount of flood water. Nearly 40 roads are closed off, so many that the emergency management department has run out of barricades.

And landslides are causing new problems, like the one on Millers Creek Road knocking a train off its tracks. Officials say no one was hurt, but it’s in an area that’s cut off by flood water on all sides so they’re monitoring it until crews can get to the scene.

“If we feel like it’s going to get too close for comfort, then yeah we’ll get out,” Chuck Ferrell said.

Ferrell is monitoring the water at his house, and at the church where he’s the pastor.

“Last night we had church and we moved our van, it was parked way down there, we moved our van and our car out and it was starting to come up, but this morning when we got up it was well over. I mean it would have covered the van,” Ferrell said.

Ferrell has acted as a disaster coordinator through multiple tragedies, serving Joplin, Missouri during the 2011 tornado and Louisiana during Hurricane Laura. Now he’s trying to figure out if he can help Estill County, while he’s dealing with flooding too.

“I’ve been doing that all my ministry so, once the threat is gone, the real cleanup begins, the real work begins,” Ferrell said.

Especially now that it’s dark, officials are asking drivers to stay home if at all possible. Since they’ve run out of barricades, there may be roads throughout the county under water that aren’t blocked off.

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