Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Volunteers help eastern Ky. with flood cleanup

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — They're arriving by the van loads, volunteers wielding shovels and mops to help residents of the flood-ravaged hills of eastern Kentucky clean layers of yellow mud from their homes.

        Dave Boyer, volunteer liaison for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said hundreds — if not thousands — of volunteers have come to Appalachia to help residents in the aftermath of flash floods that killed one person, left another missing and damaged more than 1,000 homes.

[photo] Brenda Casey, 17, of Springfield, Mo., sweeps mud from a garage in Grethel, Ky., on Tuesday.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        Flooding hit the state's coal counties when 4 to 5 inches of rain fell on portions of the region Friday and Saturday. Raging water ripped away roads and bridges, knocked out electric and water service to hundreds of homes, and coated much of the region with a layer of yellow mud.

        Gov. Paul Patton issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency, and authorizing state help for repairing damage caused by the floods. Mr. Patton also is seeking a presidential disaster declaration, which would make residents eligible for federal assistance.

        Leslie Howell Jr., 31, of the Hurricane Creek area in Pike County, died Friday night when his four-wheel all-terrain vehicle turned over in a flash flood at Boldman about seven miles north of Pikeville. Andrea Hopkins, 24, of Virgie, was swept away after she stepped from her stranded car in a flooded roadway. Her body was recovered Tuesday night.

        Jesse Green, disaster relief operations director for the American Red Cross in eastern Kentucky, said most volunteers are helping to shovel mud and mop out homes.

        Flash floods hit the region beginning shortly after dark on Friday. Five counties have issued disaster declarations. Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency were in the region on Tuesday trying to determine the level of damage. Their findings could make the region eligible for federal financial assistance.

        The Division of Emergency Management is reporting some $4 million in damage to roads and bridges, but has not yet released an estimate on private property damage.

        Mr. Patton's emergency declaration included Bracken, Clay, Elliott, Harrison, Laurel, Lawrence, Lewis, Livingston, Marshall, Menifee, Montgomery, Ohio, Rowan and Scott counties.

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