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Articles by Alexa Beyer, Mountain State Spotlight

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This story was originally published by Mountain State Spotlight. Get stories like this delivered to your email inbox once a week; sign up for the free newsletter at

When four and a half feet of water engulfed the town of Fleming-Neon, Kentucky, in July, fire chief Carter Bevins found himself in an unfamiliar position.

“We were helpless,” he said. 

The volunteer firehouse, which sits on a small road directly in front of Wright Fork creek, was surrounded by a chest-high wall of water. The phone rang again and again, with residents begging for help. But Bevins and his team couldn’t open the door. All the firefighters could suggest to panicked residents was that they get as high as they could.

“We try to take any situation and neutralize it, make it for the better. How you gonna do that when you can’t even get out of your own building?” Bevins asked.

Fleming-Neon wasn’t the only community to find itself in this position: With vast portions of eastern Kentucky still reeling from the July flooding that ruined thousands of buildings, displaced hundreds and killed 39 people, elected offic... Read more