Historic flooding causes severe damage in Beattyville

LEE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Downtown Beattyville in Lee County is washed out. The heavy rain caused major flooding which destroyed several businesses and homes, leaving a lot of people in need.

“We’re blessed in this small town,” Tommy Fox, a longtime resident, said. “We love each other. We cheer for each other. We come together in times like this.”

Fox says that won’t change. He had an optimistic attitude Tuesday, even though the severe flooding destroyed his wife’s beauty salon.

“We’re at a point in our life we don’t know what we’ll do. We’re both getting older,” Fox said. “I guess we’ll start over.”

Main Street now separates the town and Lee County Search and Rescue has been making trips to each side for those in need.

Captain Tyler Phillips says they’re working round the clock to make sure everyone has essentials.

“The outcry of support has been so great that we’ve had to set up a separate incident command in a different area of the city so that all the community members that are trying to help in some way can have a point of contact to drop off supplies,” Phillips said.

WTVQ rode along with Mayor Scott Jackson on a boat through the city to see the damage.

“We’ve seen a lot of high water, but nothing like this here,” Jackson said.

He said he thought he’d seen the worst of it during the Beattyville flood of 1984, but he was wrong.

Jackson pointed out several businesses and homes during the boat ride.

“This Three Forks Diner has been open about a month and now it’s underwater,” Jackson said.

He says he feels for business owners, and is afraid they may pack up and leave the small town. Jackson says between the pandemic, the recent ice storm, and now this – it seems like a never ending-cycle.

“We’ve got people that were struggling during the pandemic,” Jackson said. “We need help for our local people and business to get started back.”

Jackson says the flood has affected around 2/3 of the population.

He says some people didn’t think the water would rise to such dangerous levels. Jackson says he convinced one woman to leave right before the water reached its highest point.

Though the devastation is hard to grasp, Jackson, Phillips and Fox are all hopeful for the future.

“When this water recedes, we’ll be back,” Fox said. “Hopefully, stronger than ever.”

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