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Survey to look into flood control options for Beattyville

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 16:59:26-04

BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — The small town of Beattyville in Lee County is getting outside help to address their long-standing flood problem.

The Kentucky River spilled into the streets of Beattyville causing historic flooding in March. But there also historic flooding in 1957, 1984, 1939, and 1929. This year's flooding was the fourth worst.

"The city park, it probably gets flooded once a year at least," said Teresa Mays, Main Street Director.

While they don't have an exact estimate on cost, officials say the damage cost millions with 85 businesses and 75 homes impacted.

You can still see the damage in the downtown area. There are boarded up windows, abandoned trailer homes, and businesses that have yet to reopen. So far, the count is at three out of 45 businesses for closures. But even three is a lot in a town of around a thousand people, especially when they know another flood isn't a matter of if, but when, and they've run out of ideas locally.

"We had two pumps behind the courthouse, and we watched the water overflow. Okay, so they killed our, they killed our local options," said Charles Caudill Jr., Lee County Judge/Executive.

U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, who represents Eastern Kentucky, is on the hunt for solutions.

"I have put together a community project financing in other words an earmark for the Corps of Engineers to conduct a study of the Beatyville, Lee County flooding problems and see if there's any possible way to prevent such from occurring again," said Rogers.

Rogers is requesting $2.5 million to fund a survey of the area to come up with the best solution to prevent severe flood damage. He'll ask Congress for $1.25 million and the state of Kentucky for the other half.

A couple flood control options on the table are a levee and a flood wall.

Considering the small size of the town, there are questions about how worth it the investment will be.

"We may be small, but we're mighty and we're important. So, we're just as important as any large city. We have a lot to offer. We have, you know, businesses that have been on Main Street for 15 years and guess what, they got flooded but they come back because they're just that kind of people. So, I think we have, you know, why not us, why not invest in our small town," said Mays.

The survey would take two years to complete.