BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) – Breathitt County farmer Willie Bush Jr. lives off Highway 15, near the Marie Roberts Elementary School.
Bush like many other flood victims is still trying to figure out how to start over, beginning with his corn, beans, watermelons, and potato crops.
He says they were just about ready for picking until the deadly flood hit on July 28.
“There’s always next year,” Bush said.
Bush never grew his crops for profit; he always just gave them away to his neighbors.
“People are just welcome to come in get whatever they wanted until as long as it lasted,” Bush said. “Anybody got anything they wanted for free, and it was worth selling. I always looked at it like; if you sell stuff, you gotta sell it to anybody that will buy it, but if you give it away, you can give it to whoever you want to.”
Bush has not just lost his crops; he has also lost the home he built, along with his daughter and granddaughter’s homes right next to his.
“We had that flood two years ago so we bought this trailer, and set it up pretty high above where the water got two years ago, and it got eight feet higher than it did two years ago,” Bush said.
One week later to the day, Bush said he can still see the tidal wave coming at him.
“This water is like five or six feet high, it looked like a surf coming in, you see these surfers. If a man had a surfboard he could have rode it out,” Bush said. “It was amazing how fast, in an hour and half, it raised 20-something feet.”
He thinks the local strip mining and logging in the area made matters worse this time around with the flood.
“The strip mining cuts half the hill down to where there’s nothing to absorb the water,” Bush said. “And then the loggers, this is just my opinion, they take those dozers and they trap, them around the hill, pull a tree down, and all that leaves is just a drain straight down to the rivers and there’s no retard to it you know.”
Not only did Bush’s home and crops drown, but his hopes drowned along with them.
“It’s depressing, four times, we never had water problems here since ’84, and since I’ve bought it, we’ve had it four times,” Bush Jr. said.
He feels like there’s only one thing he can really do after last week’s flood, “There’s no getting away from it except move, that’s what we might end up doing. It’s hard to find a place to move to though.”
Bush is one more example of a resilient Breathitt County resident.
Breathitt County is continuing to rally together in an effort to re-build its community.
On Saturday at Campton Park and Ride, there will be a volunteer cleanup event starting at 9 a.m.
For more information, click the following to visit the Flood Relief Volunteer Cleanup Facebook event.