Heavy rain, flash flood warning cause anxiety in flood-ridden areas

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 19:22:13-04

ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Anxiety from late February and early March's severe flooding is still fresh in the minds of Lee and Estill county residents and it's adding another layer of concern as heavy rain continues into the weekend.

The transition from nice summer day to torrential rain happens fast.

"We're a river town, so it rains all the time. A little bit of rain can cause issues for us. A lot of rain can cause big issues," said Ronnie Riddell, Estill County Emergency Management Director.

Friday morning, as it rained hard, Riddle went to the line where Estill meets Lee County to access the damage.

"We had some heavy rains early in the morning, that brings with it flash flooding and the potential for flash flooding. So far, we haven't had a lot go on here," said Riddell.

Flooding wasn't concerning throughout the day Friday, but the anxiety over the threat of big issues is real within the community.

"Oh absolutely. Absolutely. Everybody's probably on edge right now because it's rained for days," said Kim Emmert who lives in Estill County.

Emmert's dad's home was destroyed by the severe flooding earlier this year. Now, every time it rains, that's what's in the back of her mind.

"Before, it didn't really bother me that bad, but until you know my dad got flooded out, it's, it's scary. It really is," said Emmert.

Those fears are valid because just a county over in Beattyville —rain caused mudslides, shutting down Highway 52. Between the flooding and the mud, officials estimate 200-300 people were affected.

"If it didn't rain for a while, it would be great," said Emmert.

While it hasn't been as bad in Estill county there's still an active flash flood warning until Saturday. The flooding from earlier this year has only made those warnings more urgent.

"Take it seriously because, you know, one of our largest hazards in this county is flooding. Quite frankly, weather causes all kinds of hazards for us, but flooding is one of our largest hazards. And since we do experience it so often, we don't want people to get used to that," said Riddell.

Their biggest advice: "Don't drive over flooded roadways, it's not worth risking your life whatever it is you're trying to get to. That's one of the, one of the things that cause the most fatalities as far as weather goes."