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Editor’s Note: The Daily Yonder premiered “East Kentucky Flood,” a half-hour documentary about the historic 2022 flood that killed 45 people and displaced thousands, in February. The documentary was a production of the Center for Rural Strategies, which publishes the Yonder. This video is a continuation of that reporting and features Greg Wilson, chief of the Rousseau Volunteer Fire Department.

Today, the barn looks like any other, sitting in a green field just downhill from a nearby road. But when the flood hit, all you could see was the top.

As Greg Wilson, chief of the Rousseau Volunteer Fire Department, drives around Breathitt County, Kentucky, he points out things that were. A home that was there since he was a young boy, now gone. A swinging bridge, now with both ends mangled.

“I believe that they’re calling this now a 1,000-year flood and hopefully we don’t never see another one like it,” Wilson said. “But we need to prepare because we may see another one real soon. I mean, we don’t know.”

The Rousseau Fire Department performed 18 swift water rescues during the flood of July 2022, which killed 45 people across East Kentucky and displaced thousands more. Twelve of those rescues came from a single home where people were trapped in an attic.

“There’s long hours, long nights. Hey, sometimes we wouldn’t get home until 3, 4 o’ clock in the morning, get right back up at 6 and do it all over again,” he said “That’s at the time when you put self aside and you worry about your fellow man.”

With help from groups in North Carolina, Wilson and his crew were able to deliver truckloads of food and supplies to affected county residents.

But the work continues. Nine months after the flood, some people still had mud in their homes.

The catastrophe reminded Wilson what is most important about living in a community.

“You and I both may have different beliefs and different denominations, and you may believe different than I do, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to put all that aside and we’ve got to help our fellow man and our neighbors,” Wilson said. “And that’s what we stepped up to do.”

“East Kentucky Flood: Some of the Stories,” is available for streaming on the Daily Yonder’s website and on its YouTube channel. Watch more videos and read more stories about the flood here.

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