Whitesburg KY
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Floodwaters can be called ‘silent killer’




Remember the flood of ’57 and all the destruction and hardships it caused? It washed away homes, livestock, and dreams. It flooded homes and businesses.

I saw motorboats plying the streets of Blackey. I saw a chicken swim for its life. I saw fattened hogs floating lifeless down the river. A good many dreams were washed away, too, and people had to start from scratch.

As if there wasn’t already enough garbage in the river, a good many businesses simply cleaned their buildings out and dumped it into the river, too. I know, because I helped with the cleanup. The Kentucky River looked like one long garbage dump, slowly moving downstream.

Although it was January, it really wasn’t very cold. We had a snow on the ground and it started raining. There really wasn’t anyplace for the water to go because the ground was already saturated. So it ran down the hills and hollows into the river.

A house at the upper end of Main Street in Blackey washed down the river and disintegrated when it collided with the bridge. Another one at the lower end of the street was washed from its foundation and lodged against a huge sycamore tree.

High blood pressure is called the silent killer. Floodwaters could also be called a silent killer, especially if it happens during the darkness.

Remember in ’58 when a school bus plunged into the swollen Big Sandy River? I remember it as if it happened only a short while ago. I can only imagine the grief resulting from this tragedy. Losing one child would be unthinkable, but some families lost more than one.

It was rumored that something had happened to the front of the bus but since the front axle was destroyed while pulling the bus out of the water, this could not be proven, especially since the driver died, too.

I have never complained when school is canceled because of weather conditions. I recall all too vividly the school bus tragedy in ’58, and all the anguish afterward. It was only a small size bus as compared to some that are in use now, or the death toll would have no doubt been much higher.

I remember the Stanley Brothers coming to the Blackey Grade School long ago. I didn’t get to go hear them sing, but I did get to see them when they arrived. What excitement it caused, that they were coming all the way back into the hills to a little town called Blackey. There probably wouldn’t have been anymore fanfare if the President of the U.S. had come to Blackey because such a deed was unheard of. Today, a lot of money would have to change hands to accomplish such a feat.


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