Here's How to Help the Flooded Kentucky Communities Near Red River Gorge

A GoFundMe effort already is nearing its goal after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared an official state of emergency on Feb. 28.

click to enlarge Flooding over Clay City - Screenshot from video by Ben Childers
Screenshot from video by Ben Childers
Flooding over Clay City

An effort to help those affected by recent flooding already is nearing its goal after just two days.

Kentucky is experiencing significant flooding after heavy rains hit the entire commonwealth over the weekend, including in the area's beloved Red River Gorge. In response, Lila Simpson created GoFundMe page to help raise money for those in need of food, temporary housing, gas, and other resources due to the flood.

So far, the page, which was launched on March 1, has raised nearly $39,000 of its $50,000 goal with the help of over 900 donors. 

"This surpassed my wildest dreams and I have y'all to thank for that," Simpson writes in a March 3 update. "Thanks for the trust, for the love, and the compassion towards our people. I am working endlessly to not let our communities or any of y'all down."

The flooding has widely affected the region, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared an official state of emergency on Feb. 28.

Every county had issued a flood warning or flood watch until Monday morning, according to a March 1 press release from the governor's office. 

“The impact of extremely heavy rainfall and flash flooding across the commonwealth led to numerous emergency rescues and evacuations in counties from west to east,” Michael Dossett, director of The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, says in the release. 

In the release, Beshear explained that by declaring a state of emergency, the government can mobilize the resources and support needed to assist those affected by the heavy rainfall. As of Monday, the Kentucky National Guard has been assisting in high-water emergencies.

The floods across Kentucky come from heavy rainfall becoming runoff, resulting in flash floods as well as the overflowing of proximate streams, creeks, and rivers. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet webpage notes that flooding is Kentucky’s No.1 most frequent and costly natural disaster.

According to the National Weather Service, Red River at Clay City was observed at a 22.56-foot stage at 12:15 p.m., March 2, narrowly missing the "major flood" classification, which is 23 or more feet. 

A March 1 YouTube video shows drone footage of the severe flooding in communities surrounding the Red River. Ben Childers, the drone video operator, notes that the footage overlooks Powell County and Clay City in the description of his video. Powell County neighbors Estill County, which was one of 13 counties and cities to declare a state of emergency as of Monday morning. 

As of March 3, the video currently has more than 24,000 views and dozens of comments expressing empathy for the communities affected.

The governor’s press release included safety tips for those in affected areas, advising citizens to avoid walking or driving through floodwaters, driving over bridges that are above fast-moving floodwaters, or camping or parking by rivers and creeks. Additionally, people should move to higher ground in the event of flash flooding. The National Weather Service says on its website that people should be particularly cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

In her GoFundMe effort, Simpson says that the money raised will be shared with community charities and families in need of direct aid. She invites those with information about local charities or people in need of direct assistance to contact her. Simpson also is compiling a list of people who want to offer hands-on help or other types of donations.

Read about the effort on GoFundMe.