Mayor Susan Polis said last week’s flooding of downtown Neon served as a reminder that creeks flowing through the town need cleaning.
“The creeks just couldn’t hold the water,” said Polis. “Our creeks need to be dredged in the worst way. We have been trying ever since I was mayor of this town to come up with who could do this and we’ve come up with nothing.”
Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward declared the county in a state of emergency June 17 after Neon received four inches of rain in four hours.
“There was so much rain in one time there wasn’t much we could do about it,” said Ward. “As soon as we heard about the flooding we took all of our equipment up there. We unstopped culverts, bridges and did everything we could.”
Letcher County Emergency Management Director Paul Miles said rains hit Neon fast last Wednesday morning..
“Water just kept coming up and up,” said Miles. “Within an hour roads were blocked.”
Fleming-Neon Police Chief Henry Day said KY 317 from below Welch’s Hollow to Terry’s Trailer Court near Goose Creek was under water. He said the amounts of water varied from six inches in some parts to two feet in other parts.
Day said the Ashland Gas Station lacked 10 to 12 inches of water to be over the gas pumps. He said several buildings, including the fire department, the drugstore, two churches and the Masonic Lodge, were flooded. He said water got to the edge of city hall but did not get inside the building. “Within four hours they had Main Street looking good,” said Polis. “There were a lot of people who helped clean up.”
Ward said several culverts will need to be replaced. Miles said 10 to 15 houses will need to replace carpet.
“We’ve got a lot of debris under bridges,” said Polis. “We are just going to try to clean it up as best we can.”
Day said Yonts Fork and McRoberts were also flooded. Ward said Doty Creek and Kingscreek had wind damage and the electricity was out for awhile. Ward said Craft’s Colly and Sandlick were flooded on June 15. Culverts were stopped up and road work had to be done.
Brian Schoettmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said Whitesburg has already received twice the amount of rainfall this month as it did last June. A weather observer located in Whitesburg recorded 3.19 inches of rainfall for June 2008. Schoettmer said late Tuesday that Whitesburg has already accumulated 6.9 inches of rainfall this June. The normal amount of rainfall for the month is 4.19 inches.
“We were in a pretty bad drought last year,” said Schoettmer. “And this year we have for sure defeated the drought.”
Schoettmer said Letcher County is entering a ridge of high pressure to the west which will break on Thursday. He said there is a chance of rain and thunderstorms on Thursday night or Friday. Schoettmer said Letcher County could receive .25 to .5 inch of rainfall.