JACKSON, Ky. (LEX 18) — On the KHSAA boys’ basketball schedule, one game in particular stands out tonight: Breathitt County vs. Lee County. Those were two of the hardest hit areas when severe flooding followed Sunday’s rain.
“The press accounts, as you well know, painted a pretty bleak picture, and a true picture,” said United States Congressman Hal Rogers (R), who represents Kentucky’s 5th District. “Yes, I was dreading having to see it, but wanted to come as quickly as I could,” he continued.
Mr. Rogers flew in from Washington, D.C. last night, and made the two-hour drive from his Pulaski County home on Friday morning to receive a briefing from local leaders and tour the damaged areas. He brought supplies and promised more federal aid once he’s allowed to offer such through a disaster declaration. That’ll have to come from the office of Gov. Andy Beshear and then get approval from The White House.
County officials estimate roughly 2,500 people lost their homes due to flood damage. The Main Street business district in nearby Beattyville doesn’t resemble its old self and it’ll be months, if not years, before it does again.
“I’ve lived in Jackson for thirty years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Richard Cole after picking up some donated water bottled from Breathitt County High School.
Cole said he has extensive damage to his home. And much of the county is still without water after the flood damaged those supply lines.
Mr. Rogers is no stranger to disaster relief in this area, which had dangerous flooding in 2009. He’s also familiar with the loss many of his constituents are feeling right now.
“I remembered how lonely and alone I felt with everything I had accumulated in my life, gone, burned up,” Mr. Rogers said as he shared a personal story of loss when his home caught fire.
What Mr. Rogers couldn’t offer in tangible relief, he tried to substitute with humor, and words of encouragement.
“Eastern Kentuckian love each other, and will fight for each other. Sometimes we might fight each other! But we know there’s more to life than just beating the other county’s basketball team,” he concluded.
Maybe the congressman saw tonight’s schedule as well?