Team Rubicon Begins Flood Response in Kentucky

Julie H. Case

Veteran, first responder, and civilian volunteers have begun to serve flood victims in Appalachia.

The nearly one foot of rain that fell across Eastern Kentucky and much of Appalachia on July 28 washed down streams and gullies, flooded already swollen rivers and culverts, and raced through hollers taking homes and roads with it. That afternoon, the Kentucky River hit its highest stage ever, with the North Fork cresting at 20.91 feet, breaking the record set in 1957—14.70 feet—by more than six feet. 

Heavy equipment operations begin after flooding in Kentucky in July of 2022. Photo by Austin Handle.

Even as rescue crews continue rescuing people stranded in homes and on roads and rooftops, and with more rain in the forecast, Team Rubicon volunteers—or Greyshirts—began descending on hard hit areas on Monday. 

In Knott County, KY, 10 Greyshirts—including sawyers and heavy equipment operators—are providing initial debris removal and clearing roads and access points for emergency services and other responding agencies. 

Thirty miles to the south, more than two dozen other volunteers are descending on Letcher County, where they are beginning to muck out flooded houses and provide other expedient repairs, all with the hopes of getting locals back in their homes, quickly. 

For Team Rubicon and its volunteers, it’s just the beginning. In addition to the two initial operations, Greyshirts have also begun doing recon in nearby Hazard, KY, and Mingo County, WV, to identify unmet needs in both areas.

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