Flash flood hits families still recovering from May storm
by TOM DOTY
DAVID - Just as the Brown family was making a dent in damages during the Memorial Day flood, they were hit again Sunday night.
The Browns were in the midst of repairing their home with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and help from volunteers at St. Vincent's Mission when a combination of Mother Nature and cost-cutting measures by the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation teamed up to, once again, destroy their living space.
They had just finished putting in a new kitchen floor and had received a new refrigerator Friday but now the floor squishes with every step and the refrigerator is destroyed. Raw sewage has also erupted through their bathroom and the smell has made their home uninhabitable.
"These people just can't take it anymore," said Sister Kathleen Weigand, of St. Vincent's Mission.
Opal Brown couldn't get over the symmetry of the flooding events which have now struck her home on the same day of the month - the 29th - in May and August.
"I just couldn't believe it could happen again," she said outside her home on Monday. "This time there was raw sewage coming up into the house. They put in a new sewage line in the spring and it's flooding out there now. We reported it to the utilities last month, but nothing's been done."
The Brown home, and others on Route 414, were also treated to a blocked culvert, which added to the damages on the road and can be directly attributed, residents say, to the Division of Mine Reclamation, which used bales of hay to line the ditch along Route 414 to protect any runoff from a nearby abandoned mine. The bales washed away almost immediately, with many taking the stakes which held them down along for the ride. The hay is everywhere on the road and blocked a culvert at Route 414 and Triple Road.
The damage was toured Monday by Tim Stafford of the Kentucky Department for Surface Mining. He could offer little comfort except to say, "We'll pass your concerns on."
Stafford also mentioned that using hay bales was a cost-effective measure to filter out silt from rainwater, but Weigand didn't appreciate that rationale.
"Cost effective? For who?" Weigand asked.
Rachel Case, administrative assistant at the David School, reported that the school also was damaged by the heavy rains, which put a damper on opening day.
"We had four classrooms and our woodshop damaged," Case said. "We have to clean out debris, mud and fallen tree branches. We will be letting the kids out early [Monday] so we can finish getting the facility cleaned up."
Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson reported Tuesday that the school at David was up and running again the very next day. He also found himself canceling a two-day vacation to respond to problems caused by the heavy waters from Sunday's storms.
"Well we're getting it back in shape," Thompson said about the community of David. "I sent a couple of our people there yesterday and will be getting up there myself this afternoon [Tuesday]."
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