Estill County in response mode against flooding


ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Emergency officials estimate the Kentucky River crested near 41 to 43 feet in Estill County. That would break the previous 1939 flood record, according to data from the National Weather Service.

“We’re a river town, we’re used to floods, but this… Nobody has seen this before,” said Melissa Riddell with Estill County Emergency Management.

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Riddell said it was a snowball effect from last month’s rounds of winter storms and the rain this past weekend.

“I’ve worked a lot of disasters here,” she said. “For a little community, we get hit hard quite a bit, it seems like, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Riddell said this is going to be a huge loss to the community.

“There’s a lot of sadness, I mean, there’s a lot of people that have lost their homes,” she shared.

She added the farming community is taking a big hit too. Fields that never flood did this time.

“People have lost cattle,” she said. “They’ve lost farm equipment… their seeds and stuff that they were storing in their barns getting ready for planting season.”

Emergency officials said many people are without power, gas, and water. A feeder line, substations, and main water pumps were underwater.

“All of this stuff is not in a flood zone, you know, water should not have gotten there.”

Riddell said it’s hard to estimate when things will be back to “normal” since many homes have been lost and roads will need to be repaired.

“Roads in the community that have feet of water, who knows if those roads are even going to be there,” she said.

Riddell is stressing never to drive through water, even if it looks like the water has gone down.

She asked the public to limit sightseeing of areas underwater since it makes it harder for crews to get their work done.

Riddle said once it’s safe for residents to return to their homes, they need to take pictures of the water damage for records.

If you would like to make donations, she asked that you reach out to Help Hands Outreach.

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Chelsea Smith joins ABC 36 as a meteorologist and reporter. Chelsea grew up on the south side of Indianapolis. Her love for weather, especially Midwest weather, started with overcoming her childhood fear of thunderstorms. Chelsea graduated from Ball State University in 2017 where she earned her degree in meteorology. As part of a BSU class she chased storms all across the Great Plains and chased tornadoes in Eastern Colorado. She recently moved from Quincy, IL where she was the weekend meteorologist and reporter for WGEM for three years. She has forecasted and covered pretty much all types of Midwest Weather from thunderstorms and tornado outbreaks, blizzards and ice storms, to droughts and historic floods. When Chelsea is not forecasting, she is most likely spending time with her family and her yorkie! She is so excited for be forecasting for Central and Eastern Kentucky!