HAZARD—After violent winds and heavy rains hit the region hard last week, state and local leaders are still working this week to pick up the pieces and put their citizens’ counties, cities, and homes back together.
Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, July 14, in response to the severe storms that devastated the region last Monday evening through Wednesday night.
Gov. Beshear declared the state of emergency on his Twitter page, saying that the declaration was part of a process that could help identify what type of assistance the counties that were affected by the storms needed. He wrote that local and federal governments would work together to measure the extent of the damage done to the communities affected by the storms, and to make sure that each community has the appropriate resources at their disposal.
Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander spoke of the state of emergency at the monthly meeting of the Perry County Fiscal Court. Magistrates voted to declare a local state of emergency for the storms on July 14, in line with the declaration from the governor.
Alexander went on to say that he was proud of the way county and city crews and workers handled the damage and calls that came from across Perry County during and after the storms and flooding last week.
“We’ve been through three … disasters this year already. Many nights they’ve (the magistrates) been out there around the clock with the crews getting roads opened back up,” Alexander addressed the crowd at the meeting on Tuesday. “I know it’s hard to say who’s first and who’s last, and every situation is an emergency to that family, but we have to start somewhere and they’ve done an excellent job and I just wanted to brag on them—we’ve been through a lot.”
Some of the harder hit areas of the county were the Dwarf, Ary, and Lotts Creek communities. Williams Branch Road, just off of Hwy 476 in the Ary community, was completely under water for the better part of the storms last week. When flood waters subsided, it was discovered that the pavement on the road had been washed away, leaving slick and dangerous mud roads and giant holes for residence to drive over.
Land and mudslides brought down trees and debris and blocked many roads in the county, including in the Buckhorn area and the Fusonia community.
According to a press release from Kentucky Power on Friday, nearly 50,000 customers lost service last week due to the storms—nearly 5,000 of which were in Perry County.
“Company crews and contractors continue to make significant progress repairing as many as 50 broken poles and miles of downed power lines,” the release read. “Bulldozers have been used to build access roads to make repairs in some isolated areas.”
As of Friday afternoon, 1,080 customers in the Hazard Service District remained without service; that number was expected to drop by this week.
Alexander said that the county is continuing this week in any efforts needed across the county to repair any storm or flood damages.
“We are doing everything possible and will continue to try and help the citizens anyway we can. If anyone has flooding damage to their residence, please contact Jerry Stacy at 436-4513. Report all road damage to the county garage at 439-4465 and any concerns to my office at 439-1816,” he said.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.
TJ Caudill also contributed to this article.