Flash flooding affects Church members and neighbors in Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky has been the hardest hit from torrential rain that also affected West Virginia and Virginia this week

Deadly flash flooding and mudslides tore through parts of eastern Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia this week after heavy rains.

Kentucky was the hardest hit. The death toll has reached 25, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a tweet on Saturday morning. Four of the dead were confirmed to be children.

“We’ve got some tough news to share out of Eastern Kentucky today, where we are still in the search and rescue phase. Our death toll has risen to 25 lost, and that number is likely to increase,” he wrote.

Gov. Beshear said on Facebook, “the situation is even more devastating to see firsthand,” showing video taken from a helicopter of homes and streets covered by water — and only the tops of trees sticking up out of the newly formed lakes.

More than 23,000 Kentuckians lost power, reported on Friday. The day before, rescue teams conducted around 50 air rescues and hundreds of boat rescues. 

Church members, friends and family affected by flooding

Huntington West Virginia Stake President James A. Wolfe told the Church News that the flooding impacted much of the southern portion of his stake, mainly in Eastern Kentucky.

To his knowledge, no members had been injured or killed. But he had received initial reports that some members have property damage. They are working to understand the full extent. 

He said local leaders were still working to contact the members, but it was difficult due to power outages, downed power lines and spotty cellular coverage. 

Lexington Kentucky Stake President Glen M. Krebs said his stake members in his boundaries had not been directly impacted by the flood waters, but some of their friends and family members had been.

The Kingsport Tennessee Stake boundaries also include counties that were hit by the flooding. The Church News reached out to leaders there as well, who said they were not aware of any stake members adversely affected.

Missionaries in the area are safe, but some have been impacted by the flooding. West Virginia Charleston Mission President David G. Lindahl said two elders had to move out of their residence in Hazard, Kentucky — their home did not flood but they have no water.

Members of the Winchester, Ky., Fire Department walk inflatable boats across flood waters over Ky. State Road 15 in Jackson, Ky., to pick up people stranded by the floodwaters Thursday, July 28, 2022. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. | Timothy D. Easley, Associated Press

Disaster relief

Several Kentucky counties have been granted federal aid, with more counties expected to be added to the list. Many of the same areas of Kentucky were affected by the tornadoes in December.

After the December tornadoes, many Church members spent hours and days helping their neighbors clean up, repair and rebuild.

Meanwhile, some members of the Richlands Branch in the Pembroke Virginia Stake were affected by flash floods a few weeks ago. Stake President Quinn Warnick told the Church News that his stake has been participating in flood relief service projects in those areas since then, but they were not impacted by this week’s flooding.

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