‘We just sat...in tears’: Residents recall harrowing moments during Eastern Kentucky floods

WLKY Breathitt
WLKY Breathitt
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:01 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Ky. (WLKY/WYMT) - Jimmy Campbell had just waded through chest-deep water to rescue his dog. He tried to drive out the no-outlet road leading to his home, but the mud and floodwaters were too much.

CBS affiliate WLKY reports he climbed up onto nearby railroad tracks, sat in the rain and watched the North Fork of the Kentucky River swallow his Breathitt County home.

“The house, it just picked up and turned sideways and just floated into the trees and just demolished,” Campbell recalled. “By that time, you couldn’t see it cause it was all underwater. It was that high.”

Stories such as this are all too common in Eastern Kentucky, where massive flooding has claimed the lives of at least 37 people.

Tiffany Gross was watching the water in the creek behind her house rise when the nearby Middle Fork of the Kentucky River began backing up into the Mill Creek hollow where she lived.

When the water rose high enough to reach her front yard, she and her husband decided to take their children and leave.

“We actually went over and stayed at a neighbors on the hill and watched the waters rise around our place as we just sat over there in tears,” Gross said.

Like many, the Gross family is now trying to clean up the mess. With a 9-month-old boy and a 9-year-old daughter, that’s been difficult. Mold has already started growing on the walls inside her home, which saw nearly 3 feet of water.

Both the Campbell and Gross families have lived through other floods before, but this one was the worst. That has them considering moving to higher ground.

“We’re done with it,” Gross said. “If I’m able to salvage my home, I’m calling it quits with Mill Creek.”

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