HAZARD — In the midst of what has so far been a very dry, hot summer, a sudden downpour on Thursday flooded streets, and placed many homes and businesses in danger. The flash flooding led to accidents, power outages and road closures as a result of falling trees and debris. Despite the violence of the storm, however, Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said there was relatively little damage in the county.
As a result of Thursday’s storm, several counties in the region lost electricity just days after another windstorm on June 29 knocked out power to many of these same areas. According to Kentucky Power’s website, hundreds of people in Perry, Knott, Breathitt, Letcher, Pike and Floyd County remain without power Friday afternoon, and power is not expected to be restored to all of the Hazard area until late Saturday night.
Figures as of Friday afternoon placed the number of customers in Perry County without power at 1,503, and these outages couldn’t have come at a worse time. A heat advisory is currently in effect for Perry and other counties, and while the National Weather Service notes that thunderstorms may be possible on Friday, “most locations will remain sweltering and rain free.”
A high temperature of 95 degrees is expected, with a heat index value of 100 degrees. Saturday will be no better, with a forecast including a high near 98 degrees in Perry County.
While the rain knocked out power and is causing problems for people now living without electricity or air conditioning, Judge Noble said that other than a few downed trees the county came out of the storm relatively unscathed.
“I went out last night and I stayed out till dark, and there were some trees down and one house where a tree fell on it down in Combs, but it just knocked the power out,” Noble said.
One of the things that may have helped save the county from further damage was improvements made to several creek beds following the two flash floods last summer. In Hiner the creek had been a continuing problem, including during the June 20 flash flood last year where the road was peeled up by the raging water and pushed on the hill.
The bank of the creek has been reinforced and the road repaved, which helped keep the water out of the street and away from the cars.
“That had always flooded on people and that helped out a lot,” said Noble, adding that it was fortunate that they had completed some of these projects and that the flooding was not worse, considering they are still cleaning up and doing repairs from the last round of flooding. “We are just now catching up to that.”
Perry County, like many counties frequently affected by flooding, is still waiting for reimbursement for many of the larger repair projects. Last year’s floods alone caused $3 million in damage.
According to Noble, unlike last year no sizeable amount of damage was sustained, which was unexpected good news.
“I was expecting more damage than we had.”