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Weekend flooding soaks county

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By Geoff Hamill

The storms that rolled into Washington County Saturday morning finally started to roll out Sunday night. Before the clouds began to clear, many people had been sent in search of higher, dryer ground.

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Washington County Emergency Management Director Kevin Devine said Monday that about 10-12 families were displaced from the flooding, but there were no injuries reported.

“Everybody is OK, but there is a lot of cleaning up to be done for them to get back in their homes,” he said.

Many local roads were closed Sunday afternoon when water made its way across them. Devine said some roads remained closed Monday afternoon, but even some that had become clear of water were still covered by other debris as a result of the flooding.

Devine said much of the flood water was beginning to recede Monday afternoon, but the storm left other damage in its wake. He said a state of emergency had been declared locally by Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles. This declaration could assist the county in receiving emergency funding in the future if an emergency is declared at the state level. Devine said if at least $38,000 worth of damage is done to public property, that would qualify the county for emergency funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“As of last night, 26 Kentucky counties had declared an emergency. Once the state gets all of the numbers, they will send it on to the federal level and ask for a declaration. Then they will send in FEMA representatives like they did in the ice storm, and we will show them all of the damage and the documentation, then they will reimburse us for expenses,” Devine explained. He added that from what he had seen as of Monday, the county would likely reach the required amount of damage to receive any possible federal funding.

“There are still a lot of roads under water, and we don’t know all of the damage yet,” Devine said. “But I think we’ll meet that $38,000 level from what I can see so far.”

This was not the worst flooding in Washington County, but Devine said it did compare in ways with a storm that brought heavy flooding in 1997.

“It’s one of the worst we’ve had in recent years,” he said. “There are some flooding marks from the 1997 flood at the Burg, and this one lacked about 12 inches or so from getting to that mark. I don’t know about other places in the county right now. We’re still looking over everything.”

Devine said he was not sure how much rain had fallen in the 1997 flood, but the total of this recent storm was more than eight inches.

Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles said he and Devine spent Monday afternoon assessing the damage, and many roads remained covered with either water, or a muddy coating where the water had receded.

“The water has not receded as much as I had hoped, “ Settles said Monday afternoon.

He said most of the smaller streams in the county are now back in their banks, however, the larger ones such as the Beech River and others are still high, and possibly have not crested as of Monday afternoon.

“Some were as high today as they were last night at 10 p.m., if not higher,” Settles said. “It’s still unbelievably high on the Beech side at the Burg. It’s not as high as it was in 1997, but it’s very high.”