After massive flooding inundated parts of eastern Kentucky in 2021 and again this year, state officials are looking for ways to mitigate the damage from future floods that are sure to come.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., on Wednesday showed bipartisan unity in announcing that $2.5 million in federal and state funds have been set aside for a study to determine mitigation strategies for the Kentucky River in and around Beattyville. Similar efforts in western Kentucky in recent years have made a significant difference there, officials said.
“Our region has suffered tremendous loss due to flooding, year after year,” Rogers said in a statement. “Along the Cumberland River, we’ve had great success in protecting our communities with the help of the Army Corps (of Engineers), and I’m hopeful that we can do the same in the Kentucky River valley.”
The study will examine structural work, such as levees and floodwalls, along with relocation or elevation of buildings in the flood zone, and other measures. Lee County is the local sponsor for the study and its matching funds will come through a state program, the Flood Control Local Match Participation Program. Another $800,000 in federal funding may be approved later this year, Rogers said.
Beattyville, about an hour’s drive southeast of Lexington, and surrounding communities were hit with unprecedented levels of floodwaters in March 2021. More than 20 businesses downtown were closed down and dozens of homes were swamped.
Further east, in Perry County, record floods in July of this year left 15 people dead and homes and businesses were destroyed. Almost no one in the hard-hit areas had purchased flood insurance, local insurance agents said.
Rogers counseled that flood-control projects take time and money, and he asked residents to be patient while the study is underway.
Top photo: The city of Beattyville was underwater following heavy rains in March, 2021. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
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