Whitesburg KY

Neon flooding worse than thought

Recent flooding in Fleming- Neon apparently did more damage than was originally thought.

In a letter read by Mayor Susan Polis at the October meeting of the Fleming-Neon City Council, resident Gwen Johnson wrote that she learned her home had been flooded while she was at work and by the time she was able to reach her home, driving through back streets to avoid flooded city streets, she found that the first floor of her house was under water. When the water receded, it left the house full of foulsmelling mud.

Johnson wrote that she has contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster relief but was informed that her home was not in an area which had been declared a disaster area. She said FEMA told her that businesses were eligible for relief but not individual homeowners.

Johnson said that her home and one belonging to neighbor Mike Bentley were badly damaged by the flooding, but that others in the neighborhood escaped because they had built their homes up higher to be out of possible floods. She said she was appealing to the city to help by dredging the creek running through the neighborhood near the mailboxes on Harding Avenue on Highway 343. She also asked that the city build up the berm along the creek.

Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said he had declared an emergency during the flood, and that he has spoken with Johnson as well. Ward said that individual claims and that since Johnson was turned down initially she should keep after FEMA in seeking relief and not give up. He said that in many ways, FEMA was like an insurance company in that sometimes claims have to be filed several times and that FEMA determines what is a disaster area by the number of properties affected.

Mayor Polis said she had been out of town during the flooding but has learned that workers from the Kentucky Department of Transportation are cleaning out the creek. She said that while the DOT isn’t dredging, workers are using excavators to reach as far out in the creek as possible, using a method they call “dip, dump, and haul.”

Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips said the method is actually meant for cleaning culverts but that so many culverts run into the creek in that area, it serves the same purpose as dredging, which can’t be done without EPA permits. Phillips said the culvert cleaning is the only way the state road department can accomplish cleaning the creek legally. The work started at Fleming-Neon Elementary School and will continue to the McRoberts Post Office. Goose Creek is included as well.

In the Utilities Report, Phillips told the council there have been some maintenance issues associated with the sewer pumping station near the Marathon Station at Neon Junction. The lift station is scheduled to be rebuilt and the Letcher Fiscal Court has allocated $100,000 for the project. Phillips said that while he doesn’t think that will cover all the costs, he is waiting on plans and estimates on costs from Kenvirons, the Lexington engineering firm working with the city on water and sewer projects. He said as soon as the plans are drawn and costs are estimated, they will have a better idea about the timing of the project and how much further funding they need to seek.

Phillips said a water lift station serving the Haymond area also needs to be rebuilt. He said the problem is the result of a design flaw, but that due to the time passed since it was installed, the city will probably have to pay for the upgrades. Phillips said the current pump station will only fill the 100,000 gallon tank serving Haymond about halfway up. When the station is rebuilt, Haymond will have greater capacity and better water pressure as well.

Newly hired Police Chief Mike Dingus told the council that he and Mayor Polis have been going over applications for hiring a second officer.

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