The mountain communities of eastern Kentucky have been struggling from the last few years; Covid shutdowns, inflation and the decline of mining left a lot of families hurting. And then the rain came.
Jackson, KY recorded almost a month's worth of rain in just a few hours Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The waters rose quickly overnight, taking many by surprise and complicating evacuations. So far there have been hundreds of rescues from the water and from homes, and crews are still working to evacuate people in isolated areas and locate missing people. Finding loved ones has been complicated by severe infrastructure damage: cell coverage and power is out, water is contaminated, roads and bridges have been washed away and many trees are down.
We spoke with Pastor Darcy Owens of Clear Creek EFC, who estimates about 75-80% of his church families have lost everything. Some homes in the community were completely washed away and others had 5-8 feet of water rushing into the house. He shared that these families would not have had flood insurance, so they will all be dependent on FEMA or on help from non-profits and churches. Distribution centers have been set up in several areas to help families access clean water, food and some dry clothes. Pastor Darcy's concern is that some of the most vulnerable might be the least able to access these centers as hundreds of vehicles were washed away and many roads are damaged or blocked by debris.
We are already working to help the churches access supplies. The first shipment of water from Tennessee was received in Hazard this weekend, and we are sending money from our Flood Response Account to help meet immediate needs, like food, water and fuel. Your gifts could help us meet additional needs as they become apparent in the days and weeks to come. Best estimates say it could be a week until power starts being restored and mid-August before public water is safe for consumption.
ReachGlobal Crisis Response and the EFCA's Southeast District are sending staff into Kentucky this week to assess the situation and meet with pastors in the affected areas. So far we know of at least three EFCA churches who have been impacted by the flooding. Please join us in praying for wisdom as we consider how best to respond in these communities.
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