Virginia Tech experts discuss Kentucky flooding impacts


ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – “These communities are absolutely in crisis. That’s the immediate aftermath of a disaster like this,” said Liesel Ritchie, associate director of the Virginia Tech Center for Coastal Studies.

For Eastern Kentucky residents disaster struck overnight in late July.

“Flash floods are rare events, they don’t occur very often,” said Robert Weiss, director of the Virginia Tech Center for Coastal Studies.

“The magnitude of it, the scope of it, the speed with which it happened, there was very little warning,” said Ritchie.

The relief efforts have been going on day and night. But experts at Virginia Tech’s Center for Coastal Studies say the recovery process will potentially take years.

“Even once these flood waters recede, people are going to need help, they’re going to need financial support and they’re going to need social support,” said Ritchie.

Experts at Virginia Tech’s Center for Coastal Studies have been researching natural disasters like these for years. They say these types of events can also serve as a warning for areas vulnerable to flooding, including in southwest Virginia.

“When these warnings are made for flash floods, we need to take them serious. There are occasions when we get them as well, especially for folks who live near rivers. Also perhaps take a step further, not just take those warnings serious but also prepare their families if something like that occurs,” said Weiss.

President Joe Biden is planning to head to the areas impacted on Monday. The Virginia Tech experts said communities get through these events with resilience and that’s exactly what Eastern Kentucky has.

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