By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
I usually don’t regard myself as a flood survivor but the rampaging, muddy water that recently decimated so many communities in East Kentucky brought back a torrent of personal memories.
But I don’t recall anyone dying during the five times that my family was displaced by flood waters from our home, starting in the 1950’s in what used to be known as the “Blue Camps” on KY 773 in Hitchins.
Even the trauma of being flooded out seemed to fade quickly for my parents, brother, and sister because we didn’t lose everything. As I remember, the little stream behind our neighborhood normally came up slowly as backwater from nearby Little Fork Creek.
My dad drove marked stakes into the backyard, and we knew we had to leave when the water creeped up to a certain point. Meanwhile, almost everyone in the neighborhood helped each family stack their best furniture on large bricks provided by our common landlord, the local plant of General Refractories Co.
With those incidents in mind, I was surprised to see and hear the new flood victims tell of being washed out of their homes in the total darkness as their treasured belongings and their homes and businesses went downstream.
As such, I can’t imagine the horror of having a parent or sibling or any other loved one being carried away, often to their death.
I was awestruck by the incredible courage of the 98-year-old woman who swam to safety, even slowing down occasionally to encourage her 70-year-old son who couldn’t swim as fast. Even in the face of death, she had the presence of mind to continue being a loving parent. Both survived in what had to have been a tender mercy.
The whole world is learning about the new miracle that is happening in those mountain towns and hollows today as this year’s flood victims step up to help their neighbors. They also are providing love and support to the families of the 37 victims.
I doubt that Hollywood could create anything more terrifying than what our fellow East Kentuckians endured during those long, dark nights.
If you haven’t donated to one of the relief efforts, please do so today. Those brave folks deserve it.
Keith Kappes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org