KYEM Director Col. Jeremy Slinker talks battling arctic blast with flood survivors in travel trailers

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 11:54 AM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Disaster is not new to Kentuckians.

Sub-zero temperatures, however, that was a new story.

“So, we did have travel trailers in western Kentucky last winter, but we did not have experience with any major issues on any large scale, and I think that just speaks to the level of this storm that came in and the temperatures that came in,” Kentucky Emergency Management Director Col. Jeremy Slinker said.

Winterization tactics were already applied to the campers, but the freeze led officials to create a new Plan A and B for when it struck.

“When this storm was coming, we asked the maintenance contractors to re-look at the winterization, make sure we did not miss anything, we didn’t need to add any insulation,” Col. Jeremy Slinker said.

They stocked flood survivors with water bottles and anti-freeze, but at one point the campers became unsafe for some to stay in, and local first responders stepped up.

“It was (Kentucky) Fish & Wildlife and (Kentucky) State Police in four-wheel-drive vehicles. You know, they were out, patrolling, ready for this weather in those four-wheel-drive vehicles,” Slinker said.

Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park was ready to host survivors, even on Christmas weekend.

Even though Christmas was not the same for many, flood survivors were able to return to the campers a few days later, marking some degree of success.

“At 72 hours, post-disaster, when I’d say the freezing temperatures started to rise, we had all travel trailer sites and travel trailers in pre-disaster condition,” Slinker said.

Col. Slinker also said officials will use what they learned from the freeze for the next natural disaster.