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Kentucky woman recounts evacuating home of 30 years: 'I want to keep my life'

Posted at 11:20 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 00:13:52-05

(LEX 18) — In some of the hardest hit parts of the commonwealth, residents are beginning to wade through the receding water and assess the damage of this past week's floods.

"When it starts standing in my yard, I know it's time to go," Hellen Walling, 82, said, standing near her home in Ravenna.

Walling's family invited LEX 18 to come along as they caught their first glimpse of the house that is still partially submerged by water.

"Seeing it in such disarray like this, it's totally opposite of what you're used to," Jacob Chaney, her grandson, said.

Walling has lived in the house, affectionately nicknamed "The Shady Lot," for more than 30 years. Her late husband, who passed away in 2005, built the house and it has since become a gathering place for the family.

"It's almost a staple to the family itself," Chaney said. "It's almost like losing a loved one."

Still, when the water started rising Sunday, Walling knew it was time to leave and head for higher ground.

"You can replace earthly things," she said. "But I want to keep my life."

Walling was able to return to the house after flooding forced her to evacuate in 2003, but the water never got as high as it did this week.

"We're gonna tear the house down and we're gonna have a picnic area for the family," Walling said.

Walling is not sure what the future holds, but she said she expects to qualify for federal assistance. One thing she takes comfort in is knowing that her property will continue to be a fixture in the family for years to come.

"I told her that this is the shady lot," Chaney said. "'The shady lot's the shady lot no matter what. If it's standing or the house is gone, it's still your shady lot.'"

Hellen Welling's grandson has established a GoFundMe page to help his grandmother in the wake of the floods. Those who are interested in donating can do so here.