In the small city of Hazard, the debris of destroyed homes shows just how powerful flash floods were | US News

It’s the amount of water that passes through these creeks in rural Kentucky that is astounding.

I am standing by the river that flows through the town of Hazard.

I am at least 30ft above the current water level. However, there is mud and debris around. The water level two nights ago was 10m (30ft) higher than it is now.

Flooding in Hazard, Kentucky

And that extraordinary volume of additional water has spilled over into communities across this part of Kentucky.

It’s no surprise that torrents are so powerful.

Going down into the valley a bit, Eunice Howard shows us what’s left of her house.

Her house 27 years ago with her late husband was torn down.

“I heard a noise and I lifted the window and saw the water and I knew I had to call for help.”

Eunice Howard's house was ruined by flooding in Hazard, Kentucky
Eunice Howard

She started to sob: “I’m in the house… I said ‘my house will be fine’…”

She really doesn’t know how she can escape and if she doesn’t, she will surely lose her life.

Eunice’s niece, Cortney Clemons, wants to show us the power of water.

Dangerous Flooding, Kentucky.

As we walked up the riverbank from where the half intact house now stood, I realized what she was trying to explain, because the house wasn’t built where it was.

A few hundred meters away, she showed us a plot of land with some cement slabs. It was the foundation of her grandmother’s house.

Literally, the building was raised and brought downstream.

We raised our drones and it became clear: a path of destruction. It was a photograph of a lot of destroyed communities.

I asked Eunice and Cortney if they had ever seen a flood like this.

“Not at all… not in all of our time here,” said Eunice, who has been in the valley for more than 50 years.

Dangerous Flooding, Kentucky

Cortney added: “It’s saddening me to see the house you grew up in and everything washed away. Memories… all those things you can’t get back.”

She said they would go ‘fishing in the creek’ to find things that belonged to her late ‘pop’.

There are two things that hold me back in every extreme weather story I report – and a lot has happened lately.

The first is that it is always the worst affected place. So usually the weather doesn’t discriminate.

In New York last year, the people who died were people living in basement apartments.

Here, in Kentucky, the communities are not well off and their homes are not well built.

And that’s the second thing – governments need to rethink the whole design and planning of regulations with much more urgency.

Homes that aren’t built to withstand extreme weather are increasingly the norm.

There’s been a lot of talk about funding climate adaptation, but it’s too late for any community impact, now it seems, with such regulations.

Fighting climate change is not just about cutting our emissions.

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