Not again! That was likely the reaction of tens of thousands of residents of eastern Kentucky, first responders, government officials at the local, state and federal levels, and nonprofit organizations serving distressed Appalachian communities, including us here at Americans Helping Americans®.
Earlier this week, torrential rain fell in several counties with tragic results – 16 people dead as of Friday morning, including some children among the victims, announced Gov. Andy Beshear Friday morning.
And the fear is that the death toll is expected to rise.
“Powerful floodwaters swallowed towns that hug creeks and streams in Appalachian valleys and hollows, leaving vehicles in useless piles, crunching runaway equipment and piles of debris against bridges and swamping homes and businesses. Mudslides on steep slopes left many people marooned and without power and made rescues more difficult,” reported WSAZ of Huntington, West Virginia.
While floodwaters were receding in places after peaking Thursday, the National Weather Service said flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall remained possible through Friday evening.
In the aftermath, there are countless tens of thousands who are left with nothing, but thankful just to be alive, who need our help.
Beshear said at least seven counties – Perry, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley and Pike – had issued local state of emergency warnings before or after the storm hit. Those counties, home to well-known Kentucky towns like Jackson and Hazard, were hit hard, reported the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Not far from the center of the devastation is Beattyville, Kentucky, where our partner there, Cumberland Mountain Outreach (CMO) serves families in need in Lee County.
CMO President/CEO Cindy Evanoff knows what the people in the nearby counties are going through as her community experienced a similar disaster in March 2021, when floodwaters filled Beattyville’s Main Street and many others up to seven feet deep.
Then, and now, Americans Helping Americans® is there for thousands left homeless, not knowing where they’ll be sleeping tonight and how they’ll be able to repair their homes and businesses, if that’s even possible.
Within a matter of days following the flooding in Beattyville, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we were there providing our largest emergency relief assistance package in our more than 20-year history with more than $200,000 in grant funding to the Downtown Beattyville Business Alliance to help the devasted businesses recover and rebuild, and to the Lee County government for residents to repair their homes – if they were not a total loss – or move, if they were.
Today, we have already begun our efforts to provide relief to families in the impacted areas.
“We will definitely send support,” says Americans Helping Americans® Executive Director Cameron Krizek who has been in contact with Cindy about how we can help.
“Cindy says Beattyville isn’t flooding, but she is going to help me reach out to the emergency responders and family resource centers in Perry County,” said Cameron, who added that he’s instructed her to open up Americans Helping Americans’ summer youth camp facility there, Pine Crest Camp, as an emergency center.
CMO will be providing round-the-clock staffing to provide for daily needs – a safe place to stay, water, meals and more, for as long as it takes to get the families settled back in their homes, or elsewhere.
In addition, we are also working to send emergency food boxes and truckloads of water to get there as quickly as possible, and will be working to local agencies to help rebuild.
And with the help – again – of our supporters, our goal is to create an emergency supply fund of at least $20,000 to get help on the ground for flood victims within a matter of days.