RED FOX, Ky. — A fun outdoor day of events took a frightening turn when the skies opened up on the Red Fox community of Knott County on Wednesday. At the same time, several seniors with the Perry County Senior Center had gone on a trip to the Four Star Events Lake in nearby Breedings Creek and found themselves trapped and their director nearly washed away by the flood waters.
Kim Boggs, the center’s director, said the group of around 80 seniors went to the lake for fishing and archery. They had just sat down to eat lunch when the rain started. According to Effie Wagers, a senior at the center who was on the trip, the rain came down so hard it also made its way into the picnic shelter where they were eating.
The group started to leave when the rain hit, and Boggs walked over to move one of the vehicles to start loading everyone up.
“Something overflowed and it caused water to come gushing down, and I was out moving a vehicle for one of the seniors so we could pull it forward so we could get on out of there,” Boggs said.
The current became even stronger and within seconds it had risen to above ankle level.
“I noticed the current was a little bit faster than what it was when I started,” said Boggs. “I started to turn back around, and when I turned back around the rocks started shuffling and that pulled me down.”
The bank of the lake broke away, leaving Boggs dangling in the raging waters and holding on to the only thing she could find, a trash can propped against a light pole. The quick action of those around her saved her from being pulled under the water and into the lake.
“Greg Watts from Fish and Wildlife, he grabbed me and pulled me out of the current and passed me on to four other men,” said Boggs.
While Boggs was in the water for only around three minutes, she said it was a scary time.
“All I was thinking was, ‘Lord don’t let me drown in front of these seniors, do not do that to them,’” said Boggs. “They were praying for me, ‘Lord don’t let her drown.’”
Boggs said that she was just happy it was her to be pulled in the water and not one of the seniors.
Effie Wagers said that she is thankful that Boggs wasn’t hurt, but knows if it had been her in the water the outcome would have been much worse. Wagers is 78 years old and cannot swim.
After Boggs was pulled from the water, they still had to find a place for the seniors to go to get out of the raging water. Wagers said that it was a frightening time. Regina Neace of Four Star Event Village said that she and the others were able to get many of the seniors to her home walking through the deep water.
“I took about eight (people) up in that (ATV) up to my house,” said Neace. “Then Fish and Wildlife started gathering them up in their trucks in two feet of water.”
Once they were able to get to safety in the house, Neace and her staff began getting blankets, clothing and any needs they had for the seniors.
“There were 40 of us up there at Regina’s at Four Star,” said Boggs. “We went up to their home and she got them all dry clothes and dried their hair, got them hot coffee.”
Once in the house, they realized that the dam holding a silt pond on a surface mine could break and would destroy the home. Officers from the Kentucky State Police arrived and got the people out of the home and to safety in school buses provided by the county.
All of the seniors made it home safe. One woman did go to the hospital for difficulty breathing, and Wagers was given some oxygen at the scene, though she said on Thursday that she was fine.
Boggs sustained minor injuries from being pulled into the water, but she said she is doing fine now.
“I sprained my knee and I have cuts and bruises and sores,” said Boggs. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, and I am glad it was me and I am glad it wasn’t anybody else.”
Four Star Event Village sustained considerable damage from the water, including a building on the property being destroyed and two boardwalks being washed out. One was pulled from the ground in parts due to the force of the water and the others posts were washed out of the ground.
Neace said it will be difficult to rebuild and it is a blow they were not expecting. But she is glad that everyone involved is doing OK.
Boggs, Neace and Wagers all commented on how nice everyone was and how the goodness of people kept that situation from being much worse.