Jackson County braces for flooding, storm damage as Ida nears

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 22:35:58-04

MCKEE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Jackson County officials and first responders are on high alert as they wait for tropical depression Ida to pass over Kentucky.

“If we get this much rain it could be a major disaster, especially for our north,” said Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard.

Ida is predicted to drop 2-4 inches of rain across the region.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Jackson and surrounding counties through Wednesday afternoon.

Gabbard explained there are several areas in southern Jackson County that historically flood any time there is heavy rainfall. They’re watching those closely.

“If they live in a low-lying place they can find themselves underwater in a matter of minutes. Not hours,” he said.

Six inches of rain could fall in the north end of the county.

Their concern is Ida’s heavy rainfall could collapse already damaged roads.

“We have a lot of roads and it’s very mountainous around here. We’ve had over the last four years millions of dollars worth of damage to those roads,” said Emergency Management Director Jamie Strong. “We had that problem back in 2019. We almost lost the road completely which would have stranded about 80 people.”

Officials are urging residents to stay alert as Ida rolls through the region.

“After you see [floods] a few times it makes you realize how quickly things can go wrong for people, especially if they’re not prepared and it’s really, really scary,” Strong said.

Crews are on standby to respond to storm-related emergencies.

“If you see water rising, get out early before the water gets up and puts them in that bad position. If you are in a bad position, leave your house, move up on the hill, call someone and let us know you're there and we will come to get you,” Strong said.

The heaviest rainfall should occur overnight, according to the NWS.