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'I don't even know what is normal is': Carlisle may never be the same after flooding hits small town

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 18, 2021

CARLISLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Debbie Hunt was sitting on her front porch on Wednesday morning. But the view is no longer the same as it was three weeks ago. And there's not as much company as there was back then, either.

"I think a lot of them won't come back, people who've been here for years," she said of her neighbors who lost almost everything when their homes were destroyed in a flash flood.

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Debbie used to be at peace while sitting on her porch. Now she has a hard time finding that feeling here or anywhere.

"If a cloud comes up, I'm checking it out because I'm scared to death we're going to have to run in the middle of the night again," she said.

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Thousands of home and business owners have been displaced, and most, if not all, won't get a dime from the insurance companies because this area along Brushy Fork Creek wasn't considered a flood zone. Others will get some assistance from FEMA, but when? And how much? The mayor here estimates it might only amount to 35-40 percent of their total loss. He's also concerned about what the city stands to lose over the long term.

"I've got neighbors and friends who've moved away saying, 'I'm not going to build back,'" he said.

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If that continues to happen, and it could, the city's finances would take a beating. Those homeowners were paying utilities, property taxes, and frequenting local businesses. If they leave, and no one replaces them, who will pay for those services?

"There's a million things that have been thought of but aren't being addressed, so it's tough," the mayor added.

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Debbie and her grandchildren won't leave because, as she said, this is their home, and their school is here, so they don't want to pack up and leave.

"Just trying to get back to normal, but I don't know what normal is," Mrs. Hunt said with her voice cracking.

The Save-A-Lot grocery store is still another 60-90 days from reopening, and it is this town's only grocery store. But that stuff, along with the three sanitation department trucks that were destroyed, can be replaced. But the feeling Debbie used to have while sitting on that front porch is gone forever.

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"I sat here and saw my neighbors who lost everything, sitting with their heads down. They didn't know what to do. Didn't know where to go," she said.

And no one sells an insurance policy to cover the heartbreak from those images.

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