The devastating flood damage in eastern Kentucky has been hard to see for a lot of people in Russell County, but for Jedidiah Webb, the devastation hits a little closer to home.
Webb is a native of Letcher County, one of the counties hit hard by last week’s flood. He still has a lot of family and friends in the area, and said the area has been devastated.
Webb spent a lot of his childhood growing up in Letcher County, on the far eastern border of the state, and said it’s tough to see a disaster of this magnitude hit the area.
“There are a lot of wonderful people out there,” Webb said. “Just wonderful people. Sadly, there just aren’t a lot of options and opportunities at least in terms of jobs in that area. People look out for one another and they take care of one another. We don’t get a lot of press for that. It’s usually people making fun, but the people there, when things get tough, they come together and they’re family.”
Webb said through social media avenues, he’s been able to see the communities that were affected come together.
“People out rescuing each other, helping each other, first responders in that area doing what they do,” Webb said.
While social media can have its drawbacks, in a time like this, it can help people stay connected. Through social media, Webb said he’s been able to hear from a lot of people he knows in the area, including a lot of family and friends.
“Luckily, my family and friends are alright,” Webb said. “Some are just now getting phone service or internet back to be able to reach out, but they are safe. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t have the same outcome.”
Webb said he’s been communicating with people in the area, and said major needs include water, hygiene and health items, non-perishables, and other basic necessities. The affected areas also remain in need of manpower to help with the clean-up.
While there is a focus on immediate relief, and deservedly so, Webb noted that floods of that magnitude create problems in the long-term too.
“You start dealing with molds and things like that, buildings that weren’t totally destroyed now will still probably have to be torn down and redone,” Webb said. “It’s a long-term recovery.”
Webb said as far as he can remember, he can’t recall another flood like the one that has unleashed such devastation on the communities of Appalachia.
“I remember a time where there was some areas where the water was knee deep, but nothing of this magnitude. Ever,” Webb said.
Webb said people he has spoken to in the area have told him the American Red Cross is on the ground in the area, and FEMA has reached out, and expected to be in eastern Kentucky by the end of the week.
Of course, local first responders and rescue squads have been on the scene since day one, working tirelessly.
Webb, a devout Christian, said it’s important to pray for the area and the people affected while showing them Christian love.
“Prayers go out to them and we need to wrap our arms around them and love them in the name of Jesus,” Webb said. “We need to help them while going through these traumatic times.
When I think of this situation, I think of John 13:34 and it talks about loving one another. When we do that, when we help one another and bear one another’s burdens, we show the love of Jesus and show people who he is. We need to be about helping, because this could’ve been us. Russell County has always been so good to reach out and help when called upon, like they did with the tornadoes in western Kentucky. That was incredible. People here always rally and support one another, and I don’t think this will be any different.”
Other ways to help:
The Governor’s Office has set up a relief fund, which can be accessed here.
The Eastern Kentucky Chapter of the American Red Cross
The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
Full interview with Jedidiah Webb