By: Lisa Bicknell
The flooding in eastern Kentucky has hit close to home in more ways than one.
Estill County resident Melinda Barnett grew up in Hazard. Two of her aunts’ homes were devastated by the raging floodwaters, as both women narrowly escaped from the second floors of their homes.
They saw neighbors homes and vehicles swept away. They watched as a barn was ripped from its foundation.
Early in the week, three more bodies were recovered from the debris in front of one of their homes.
Now they are dealing with the daunting task of cleanup.
On Monday, Barnett returned to her hometown to take supplies and help her aunts. Her car was loaded with supplies, much of it donated by friends.
“Both of my aunts are lucky to be alive,” she said.
Barnett explained that one had to climb on her roof and crawl across it to a hillside. Another aunt climbed out a window by ladder onto a boat.
Flooding had never touched some of these areas before.
Barnett has shared many photos on her social media feed, but she said that pictures don’t begin to show what the damage is really like. Mud is inches thick on every surface. Cattle are running loose. Many bridges are gone.
Barnett also related how a cousin who was in the Army and had been deployed four times said he’d never seen anything like the destruction in any war zone.
She said she quit taking pictures when she was informed that more bodies had been found in the debris, but rescuers couldn’t get to them because of additional flooding on Sunday night.
Barnett believes there will be hundreds of bodies recovered.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “It’s like what we went through [in Estill County] last year times a thousand.”