One year later, people still working to recover from historic flooding in Breathitt County

One year ago Tuesday, several areas in southeast Kentucky were dealing with historic flooding along the Kentucky River.
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST
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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - One year ago Tuesday, several areas in southeast Kentucky were dealing with historic flooding along the Kentucky River.

In Breathitt County, the river crested at 34 feet, which is a level that hadn’t been seen since the 1980s. One year later, there is still recovery work to do and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is now getting involved to help.

Officials in Breathitt County say more than 50 homes were destroyed by last year’s March floods. Some homeowners are just now getting done with repairs and they say it’s hard to believe it’s already been this long.

“I can’t believe that the cleanup is actually over. It just seems like last week,” said homeowner Mattalou Kilburn. “As far as repairs, we’re still doing that, so it actually took maybe two months to be livable safely.”

Even though she’s still on the road to recovery, Kilburn says she is grateful to be back to some normalcy because she knows many other families were worse off.

“I’m blessed, we’re blessed. It appeared to be an impossible task but we just didn’t panic,” Kilburn said.

While the residents in the Quicksand area continue to recover from last year’s flood, those on Panbowl Lake are also getting some better news after KYTC announced they will be adding more structure to the Highway 15 dam after it was minorly damaged and even caused an evacuation scare last year.

“The way these dams were constructed in the 60s, we wouldn’t construct them like that today, and so this is just a mechanism to basically help waterproof the impoundment and help that seepage and keep that from happening again,” said KYTC Project Manager Aric Skaggs.

KYTC officials say the project to strengthen the Panbowl Lake dam will be done in phases and will be completed over the next few years.

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