On Aug. 5, the Rev. Roy Harlow, pastor of Graceway United Methodist Church, was out driving in his community in Wayland, Kentucky. Jennifer Taylor was about to get into her SUV when he waved her down to ask how she was doing.
She said she was fine but her harrowing story came out in a flood of words.
She said the water in the usually placid stream flowing close to her house rose suddenly at 3 a.m. and her next-door neighbor yelled at her to “get out now.”
At that moment, a couple of young men using two-by-four plankes for paddles came up to her front porch in a canoe and helped her jump in.
“They told me not to rock the canoe, but the water was moving so fast, it was hard. We hit a tree, but we made it,” she said.
“I lost my aunt who lived in Hindman. My mama was on the phone with her when she heard the trailer popping and cracking.”
The death toll is at 37, with the majority of the deaths coming from Knott County. Four of those who died were children ages 2-8 from one family.
“When I heard about those four babies, it broke me,” said Taylor.
The water didn’t make it up to Taylor’s home, which is on stilts with a concrete block basement. The homes were built in 1913 by the Elk Horn Coal Company.
Most of her neighbors were not so lucky.
Craig Crase said he got 23 inches of water inside his living area.
“I lost two vehicles and everything I own,” he said. “I have structure insurance and vehicle insurance but not flood insurance. I am blessed. Some people lost family members.”