County kicks off flood relief efforts

·4 min read

Aug. 6—On Thursday, the Madison County Emergency Response Task Force ramped up their flood relief efforts for eastern Kentucky.

Not only did members of the county's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) travel to eastern Kentucky to provide aid, a community-wide donation drive was held to gather water, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food, and hygiene products for the victims of last week's flooding.

There were two drop-off points in the county, with one in Richmond and one in Berea. Richmond collected donations at the Eastern Kentucky University's Center for the Arts, while Berea took their donations to at the local fire department.

The donations will be taken to affected counties in eastern Kentucky on Monday morning.

From there, Madison County Deputy Judge Executive Jill Williams told the Register, the task force hopes to store and deliver any donations to eastern Kentucky on an as-needed basis.

According to Williams, the county is preparing to provide storage for donations as it was a lesson learned from the tornadoes that hit western Kentucky last December. Williams said more supplies than the affected areas had room for were often sent to the region.

The Emergency Response Task Force was first formed two years ago under a different name and a different circumstance. The task force is large and consists of several local agencies, companies, and leaders.

"We had a task force that Judge Executive Reagan Taylor started at the beginning of COVID-19. We reengaged that task force on Aug. 1 to work on how we're gonna respond as a community," Williams said in a previous interview with the Register.

The decision to reactivate the task force began when a call from EKU representatives was made to the county government to see if they wanted to collaborate.

The collection window on Thursday was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to representatives from both drop-off points, donations were steady throughout the day.

"It's good to see everybody in the community and in the county willing to help out and go out of their way to help somebody else in a different county. It's pretty awesome," Brent Billings, Berea Fire Department's (BFD) public information officer, said.

According to Billings, the BFD has a team ready to deploy to eastern Kentucky.

"We have a crew that's ready to go when we're called upon. We haven't sent anybody yet, we're just waiting prepared," Billings said.

Among those who made donations in Berea on Thursday was Fletcher White, who donated 20 cases of water to the relief effort.

"I've been away 30 years and I'm glad to have an opportunity to help people out," White said.

Over in Richmond, the drop-off location at the EKU Center for the Arts stayed busy as well. As of Thursday afternoon, they had collected enough water alone to fill up two box trucks.

Sheriff Mike Coyle and Deputy Michael Stotts were among those that dropped off supplies at the center for the arts on Thursday.

"It's just great that the community comes together and drops off stuff that's needed. You know, anytime we have disasters, it seems like it brings people closer together," Coyle said. "This is one of those times. We go from tornadoes to floods and it's just great that all the people of Madison County and surrounding counties recognize how bad a disaster it is. They pull together and give from their hearts to make those people there a little better off."

Ryan Wilson, the executive director of the president's office for EKU, took in donations at the center for the arts on Thursday.

He said the university has been using regional connections to find out what supplies are most needed.

"These are all items that we've heard from our local Manchester Campus (one of EKU's regional campuses) that folks need quickly," Wilson said. "I wanna remind everyone that this is not just an EKU thing. This is Madison County. Richmond, Berea, we're all coming together as one community to make sure we help these folks out in their time of need."

Wilson is also a native from eastern Kentucky (Clay County) which he said makes the donation drive very important and personal to him.

"We're resilient by nature as eastern Kentuckians. We got a chip on our shoulder and that serves us well in times like these. Because we're gonna help our fellow Kentuckians out and we're gonna make sure that they get what they need." Wilson said. "We're all Kentuckians. Obviously, we saw what happened in western Kentucky last year. Folks from eastern Kentucky helped them out and now they're helping us out. I'm just glad to see the community coming together and helping these folks. They really need our help."