Flood insurance agents in Hazard, Kentucky, said Monday that their town was flooded with river water and mud — but few people have flood insurance.
“From what I know, almost no one has flood insurance, and they got 4 to 5 feet of water in their homes,” said Tim Ison, an agency in Hazard, Perry County, part of a four-county district that has seen . at least 30 people were killed and hundreds of houses were damaged or destroyed.
Ison usually writes auto tips and said his agency has been inundated with claims about cars damaged by flooding in the past five days.
“The mud is incredible,” Ison said. “They’ve taken truckloads of it from parking lots around here, but it’s everywhere. And many people still don’t have power.”
Laura Feltner, owner of State Farm in Hazard, which writes homeowner’s laws, said she was too busy to speak Monday morning. Another organization reported damage to homes, many of which had no National Flood Insurance Program or private coverage. Several other agencies in flooded towns did not return calls. Others reported that aid workers are helping to get aid, including food and water, to refugees.
Rescuers were still trying to reach the missing people Monday morning, but were hampered by debris collected by the floodwaters, according to news reports. Kentucky’s governor said he believed rescue workers “have been finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a mile plus where they ended up,” according to CNN and NBC News.
More than 12,000 people were without power, another threat as temperatures are expected to rise this weekend. Meanwhile, rain is expected today.
“Most of these places have never been flooded. So if they don’t get flooded, these people won’t have flood insurance, “Donald Mobelin, the mayor of Hazard, told CNN. If they lose their home, then they’re going to lose. There’s not going to be an insurance check coming to cover this. We need financial donations,” he said, referring to the aid fund established by the government.
The lack of flood insurance in this area is not uncommon. Recent surveys have shown that only 7% of Americans have a flood policy. And with high flood insurance rates in high-risk areas rising this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency revised its risk assessments to be more data-driven and standardized.
Claims for hardship may occur at some point. The Associated Press reported that coal sales, even if reduced, could have made the flooding worse. The hardest-hit areas of eastern Kentucky received between 8 and 10.5 inches of rain over 48 hours, and soil erosion from coal mining could have changed the landscape to help push rivers and streams to reach the surface.
Emily Satterwhite, director of Appalachian Studies at Virginia Tech University, said: “Over the years, because of logging and strip mining, the land has not been able to release floodwaters during heavy rains.
The North Fork of the Kentucky River reached 20.9 feet (6.4 meters) in Whitesburg — 6 feet higher than the previous record — and peaked at 43.5 feet (13.25 meters) in Jackson, said National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Bonds.
Melinda Hurd, 27, was forced to leave her home in Martin, Kentucky, on Thursday afternoon when the mighty Sandy River rose up her front steps — and then came.
“As soon as I came down the stairs, my hip went up,” he told the Associated Press. She lives with her two dogs at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, about 20 minutes from her home.
Hurd’s neighbors were not so lucky; others stuck to their roofs, waiting to be rescued.
Many people in this Appalachia region did not have any type of homeowner’s insurance, according to reports.
Evelyn Smith lost everything in the floodwaters that ravaged eastern Kentucky, saving her grandson’s mud tricycle. But he has no plans to leave the mountains that have been his home for 50 years, the AP reported.
Like many families in a region of hills, mountains, deep valleys and surrounding rivers, Smith’s roots run deep. His family has lived in Knott County for five generations. They have built relationships with people who have helped them, even though the long-impoverished community has lost many jobs due to the collapse of the coal industry.
After floodwaters from nearby Troublesome Creek flooded his rental trailer, Smith moved in with his mother. He is 50 years old and disabled, suffering from respiratory disease, and he knows that he will never go back to where he used to live; his landlord told him that he would not put trailers in the same place again. Smith, who didn’t have insurance, doesn’t know what his next move will be.
He said: “I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.” “I’m just surprised.” I don’t know what to do now.”
For many of those whose homes were destroyed, contact with family and neighbors will only improve after the floods, which destroyed homes and businesses and devastated small towns. However, a portion of the state that includes seven of the 100 poorest counties in the country, according to the US Census Bureau, may not be enough for people living on the coast.
The flooding reached West Virginia, where Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency in six southern states, and Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin also declared a state of emergency which prompted the government to collect funds in the southwestern part of the state. .
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Top photo: A home in Eastern Kentucky was washed out of the street Saturday after a weekend of heavy rains flooded parts of Kentucky. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
Flooding Agencies in Kentucky