UPDATE: Two dead in Clay county, emergency management says devastation still being assessed
This is the second year in a row Oneida has experienced bad flooding
UPDATE 11:30 P.M.
ONEIDA, Ky. (WTVQ) – The death toll from the devastating floods all throughout southeastern Kentucky continues to rise. According to Clay County Emergency Management, two of the state’s eight confirmed deaths come from Clay County alone.
“It’s just a devastating flood. It’s hurt everyone in the community, it’s just awful really,” says Nick Burns, Oneida native.
Unfortunately, this isn’t Clay County’s first bout of flooding. During the spring of 2021, Oneida experienced flooding some locals say was just as bad if not worse than what they’re seeing now.
“I mean, it’s two years in a row it’s struck like this. I’ve lived here for 26 years and I’ve never seen it do this but the last two years,” says Burns.
Clay County Emergency Management says it doesn’t know the level of devastation in the area just yet. According to emergency management, many county and state roads are impassable from mudslides and water and several homes and farms are destroyed.
“A lot of these folks are just now getting back to the point of trying to really get their feet back on the ground and kind of really getting their homes and everything cleaned up from the previous flood and then they got hit pretty hard here again,” says Brian Jackson, deputy director of Clay County Emergency Management.
Emergency management says it couldn’t get out to start rescue calls until Thursday afternoon and there are still some areas it couldn’t reach. For Burns, he took rescue into his own hands when it came to saving his great aunt from the flood waters.
“It washed her trailer down the creek and they called 911 about 4 this morning, but there was no way to get in the holler. It took us until approximately 8 o’clock or 9 this morning to get her out, for the water to go down to get to her trailer,” says Burns.
“Is she doing ok?” asks ABC 36.
“Yeah, she’s fine, she’s at my mom’s house now, we busted her trailer door down to get to her,” says Burns.
Emergency management says until the damage is assessed, it’s hard to know how long it will take for Oneida to get back on its feet a second time but says it won’t be a quick process.
ONEIDA, Ky. (WTVQ) – Clay County is just one of the counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky experiencing extreme damage after heavy rains turned into flooding Thursday night, with more expected on Friday.
According to the National Weather Service, the area got more than seven inches of rainfall.
ABC 36 spoke with Will Bowling, who’s lived his whole life in Oneida along Goose Creek, part of the South Fork of the Kentucky River.
He says his area is without power right now, saying the community has experienced several water main breaks.
He considers himself lucky living on the creek, saying the flash-flooding in the area has been much worse.
“It really has been the flash-flooding around the smaller tributaries. A lot of landslides and rock slides into the roads and around people’s houses,” said Bowling.
From his front window, he’s been able to witness water rescues. He said he and his family are safe but blocked in their house by landslides. He says the first thing he did when he woke up this morning is reach out to close friends and family in the area to make sure they were safe.
“We started reaching out to folks around and making sure they were alright. We do have a lot of friends who’ve had some damage from this,” said Bowling.
He says he’s reminded of the area’s flooding in 2021, but before that, the community hadn’t seen devastating floods like these since the 1960s.
“If you remember not 18 months ago, in early 2021, there were a lot of folks in this community who lost homes…I anticipate that’s probably going to be an issue this time around as well,” said Bowling.
He says he’s most concerned about the people in his community who are still in harm’s way, and how the community will recover after the water recedes.
“It will be a long road to recovery and it’ll take a while to come back to where we were before all this happened,” said Bowling