Reaching Flooded Households in Rural Kentucky

CWSKit Stories

“We never needed help before.  We didn’t know where to turn for help.”

Volunteers heard that a lot recently as they delivered CWS Kits and Blankets to survivors of destructive flooding in hard-to-reach rural areas of Floyd County, Ky.

Many residents said they had never been flooded before heavy rains in late summer caused flash flooding and overflowing creeks.  Many got flooded twice in the same week.  “There even were a few places hard hit with high water and flooding for a third time,” said Sandy Gunnell.

Gunnell is director of Sisters of Hope Charitable Community and Disaster Relief in Garrett, Ky., which requested and received 360 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, 240 CWS Hygiene Kits and 300 CWS Blankets for distribution to flood-affected households in Floyd County’s “hollers” as well as in Prestonsburg, Allen, Martin and other nearby towns.

Homes and a food bank took in “flood mud” several inches deep.  A mobile home was overturned.  “Imagine what it must be like to have everything you own lying outside in a heap of mud,” she said.  “Without the help from CWS, we would be totally lost.”

Survivors of the August 2014 floods in Floyd County, Ky., receive CWS Blankets, CWS Hygiene Kits and a CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket. Photo: Sisters of Hope Charitable Community and Disaster Relief

Gunnell said she was able to deliver CWS Kits and Blankets in town, but would not have reached everyone in need in rural areas if it hasn’t been for volunteer Kent Rose, of Prestonsburg.

“There are a lot of people in the hollers who don’t want you around if they don’t know who you are or anything about you.  Kent knows everyone in the hollers, and their needs,” Gunnell said. Furthermore, “there were places only he could get to in his truck.  And where roads and bridges were washed out, he and his fellow volunteers – Prestonsburg Mayor Jerry Fannin and Council Member David Gearheart – walked the CWS Kits and Blankets in.

“These men worked their own jobs, then delivered supplies before work and after work and after work until dark to make sure each person received help,” Gunnell said. “They worked diligently and always with a good word for everyone they came in contact with.”

A couple of CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets went to the flooded food bank, since with “flood mud,” “you have to clean three or four times because it keeps coming through your baseboard,” Gunnell said.  A woman named Debi wrote on behalf of the food bank, “Thanks for coming to our rescue with the cleanup buckets.  We received about 4 to 6 inches of water and mostly mud in our building.  These supplies made it much easier to clean the building.”

Gunnell’s group also distributed CWS School Kits that were left over from a school in Grethel, Ky., whose children had been affected by flooding last year.  One parent who acknowledged being without “much school-type education” wrote in a thank you note, “I am truly BLESSED to be able to get school supplies like pencils, notebooks, scissors, erasers, crayons and things out to kids.”