MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief workers are poised and prepared to begin working in flood-ravaged southeastern Kentucky.
Following a week of rain, DR accessors on Saturday were able to look over the damage and begin assembling teams.
Dave Hampton is the Blue Hat for the effort this week that begins Tuesday. Two crews of between 7 and 10 from Richmond and Monticello have been called out and will likely stay through the weekend doing mud-outs in Harlan, Bell, Knox and Whitley counties, he said.
Last week Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in those counties and four others in southeastern Kentucky.
Not only will the Disaster Relief teams be cleaning up mud-drenched homes, but they will be ministering with residents who have had their lives turned upside down in one of the worst floods in the area in decades.
Some were comparing it to the 1977 flood that paralyzed that region for weeks and washed away roads and homes.
“For what we do, Bell County is the worst damaged,” Hampton said. “I’m talking strictly mud-out, cleaning up the houses.”
Hampton said they tried to do assessments throughout the week but a continuous rain made it impossible. They were finally able to do it on Saturday and started deciding how many teams and what was most needed.
He said five chaplains, including himself, will be on hand to attend to spiritual needs as well.
“If people want to talk, our job, first of all, is listen to them, let them tell their story and then we can share Jesus with them,” he said. “A lot of them don’t have any church affiliation in the mountains. We go from there. We carry Jesus with every mud-out we work on. Every house we leave a Bible and everybody that worked in that house signs the Bible and pray with them.”
Hampton said everything the workers do is bathed in prayer from the start to the finish.
He said the flooding isn’t nearly as bad as it was in 1977 but it’s still plenty treacherous. Roads are washed out making it difficult to get around.
“For those who live along the Cumberland River, it’s bad,” he said. “Overall, I’d rated most of the area about 3 out of 5. But it’s No. 1 (the worst) for some of the people.”
Hampton said the Red Cross and emergency managers have given them a list of homes in those four counties.
He said the crews will be housed at Clear Creek Bible College and some at Cedar Ridge Ministries where they will be working with Keith Decker. “They give away furniture and food for those who need it,” he said.
Churches in the area will be feeding the teams, Hampton said.
He said they go into houses and carry everything out that has been water-damaged or ruined. Then the assess the house and decide how much damage is done to the inside. They clean out the mud and then will cut dry wall above the water line, usually about four feet. If they have damaged floors, they take this out as well.
“It doesn’t matter the condition of the home,” he said. “We try to help them. It’s all they’ve got sometimes.”
Hampton said many gospel conversations become present for the men and women working on the homes with the homeowners.
Hampton, who lives in Corbin and is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church, brings a workmanlike attitude and a big heart into every mud-out. His first objective is to share Jesus with those going through one of the worst times of their lives.
“That’s really why we do what we do,” he said.
Hampton is filling in for state director Coy Webb, who is out of the country.