Aerial views show destruction from Eastern Kentucky floods
Officials in several southeastern Kentucky counties declared emergencies as flooding caused by heavy rain in the region threatened homes in spots, according to state authorities.
The places that declared emergencies were Harlan, Bell, Knox, Letcher and Floyd counties and the city of Pineville, according to Monica L. French, spokeswoman for Kentucky Emergency Management.
In Harlan County, 30 to 50 people spent Saturday night in shelters, either because their homes were flooded or because roads to their homes were blocked by high water, said Judge-Executive Dan Mosley.
Mosley said 100 or more homes were evacuated. In addition, emergency workers had to do at least half a dozen rescues to help people out of vehicles they had driven into flood-covered roads, Mosley said.
There were no injuries reported in the county, however.
The hardest-hit areas included Tremont, Dayhoit and Blair, but flooding was widespread, he said.
“It was pretty extensive,” Mosley said.
Flooding that may have been related to a blowout of an old underground coal mine damaged KY 160 in Lynch, said David McGill, emergency manager for Harlan County.
McGill said the county received about 5 inches of rain Saturday.
Officials closed some gates in the floodwall at the county seat Harlan, and high water did not get into town, Mosley said.
Many roads in the county remained blocked at midday Sunday because of water or mudslides. Local teams had not yet been able to get to all areas of the county to assess the level of damage, McGill said.
Authorities opened the state’s emergency operations center in Frankfort late Saturday to help monitor flooding.
Jerry Stacy, emergency manager in Perry County, said firefighters rescued four people from a home threatened my high water there.
WKYT-TV and its sister station in Hazard, WYMT, also reported that emergency responders rescued a man from his car after he drove into high water on Cherokee Hills Road in Hazard.
The man climbed on top of his car after the water pushed it into the North Fork of the Kentucky River, the stations reported.
Knox County Sheriff Mike Smith said flooding in the county was widespread, but he was not aware of any evacuations.
Bell County also experienced widespread flooding.
Judge-Executive Albey Brock said there was no order for mandatory or voluntary evacuations, but people could not leave their homes in some places because of blocked roads or get back home if they were gone when the water started rising.
High water covered many roads in the region after some areas received up to 4.5 inches of rain, according to Kentucky Emergency Management.
French said that as of 5 p.m. Sunday, it appeared high water was receding in most places.
Officials urged people to monitor local media for information on flood watches and warnings.