Campus News

UK Extension Collecting Supplies, Opening its Doors for Counties Devastated by Floods

Flooded downtown street in Beattyville, KY
The main office building at UK's Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability during flooding brought by torrential rains

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 4, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is collecting items and providing relief efforts for Kentuckians impacted by recent floods.

The Wolfe County Extension office is serving as the collection site for Eastern Kentucky counties impacted by flooding. On campus, extension will collect supplies at the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Agriculture Distribution Center.

“Some of the poorest areas of our communities were hit the hardest and face significant cleanup challenges,” said Ty Back, area extension director for several of the hardest hit counties. “It’s important that extension can pull together its extensive statewide resources to help these communities recover.”

As flood waters inched toward the Nim Henson Geriatric Center in Jackson on March 2, Reed Graham, Breathitt County agriculture and natural resources extension agent, helped remove medical records, supplies and food from the center and loaded them onto vehicles so they could be transported to Jackson Independent School, where the nursing home residents are currently staying.

“By the time I got there, all the residents were already evacuated, and water was coming into the nursing home,” Graham said. “It was really bad.”

Between 2 and 6 inches of rain fell in south central and southeastern Kentucky Feb. 27 and 28.

"The intense rain fell in such a short amount of time on ground that was already very saturated from three different winter storms and essentially became runoff," said Matt Dixon, meteorologist with the UK Ag Weather Center. "If there is any good news, this next week is expected to be dry, and most of the impacted waterways have crested or will crest soon. Water levels will drop significantly through the weekend."

According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, the Kentucky River at Ravenna and Booneville reached historical levels. Other locations along the Kentucky River and its tributaries were close to records. The Red River at Clay City saw its second highest crest level.

The University of Kentucky’s Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability, located in Breathitt County, sustained flood damage.

“We are already starting to access the damage and begin the cleanup, but we are still trying to help our neighbors too,” said Daniel Wilson, director of the center and extension’s East Region. “Our extension agents are really working hard and trying to do all that we can to help.”

J.M. Feltner 4-H Camp, located in Laurel County, is opening its doors to provide temporary housing to those who have been displaced by the floods. Individuals that need a place to stay should contact the camp office at 606-864-2770 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

With significant cleanup expected in the coming weeks, extension is now turning its focus to collecting and distributing items to the hardest hit areas.

“While we experienced flash flooding at the onset, we are very fortunate compared to our neighboring counties and are happy to serve as a collection site and help our neighbors in need,” said Alyssa Cox, Wolfe County family and consumer sciences extension agent. Cox and fellow Wolfe County extension agents Heather Graham and Jessica Morris are leading the collection and distributions efforts.

Extension is accepting the following items: water (gallon jugs and bottles), gloves (work and latex), bleach, cleaning supplies, trash bags, paper towels, laundry detergent, personal hygiene items, toilet paper, air mattresses, hand sanitizer, masks, buckets, mops, push brooms, trash cans, tarps, baby wipes, paper plates, plastic utensils, washcloths, towels, tarps, sponges/scouring pads/brushes, dish soap, plastic totes, spray bottles and gift cards. They are also accepting the following items for farmers: fencing materials, hay and livestock feed.

Individuals interested in donating items can drop them off at the Wolfe County Extension office, located at 20 N. Washington St. in Campton. Items are also being accepted on the UK campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 4 and 5 at the Agriculture Distribution Center, 229 Stadium View Drive, Lexington.

Cox said they hope to have many of the supplies collected by next week, so they can begin distributing those to communities in need. They will coordinate the distribution with staff at other extension offices and emergency management directors in the affected counties to make sure the supplies go to those in need. 

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