The photos are horrific – the flooding in Kentucky and southern West Virginia has taken at least 16 lives, including 6 children. The heavy downpour of five to ten inches of water in 24 hours totally submerged small towns like Jackson (population 2200) and caused massive destruction throughout the area.
The floodwaters, a mucky brown, pulling in dirt from some old strip mines, made the water thick as well. Floods in 2019 also caused death and damage, bringing mud down from the strip-mined hills. Like the flooding in the West that followed the fires, there was no vegetation to hold the soil.
Thankfully, the flooding doesn’t seem to be as bad as the Buffalo Creek disaster that resulted from a dam that broke, but the hills empty of vegetation are a warning. More bodies will be found as floodwaters recede, to be sure; let’s hope there are not too many more. To mitigate future flooding, we really need to address Appalachia’s needs.
Prayer for the Day
So necessary for life, we fear water when it rages, O God,
Causing death and destruction all around.
And we ask: Could such devastation be prevented,
So water becomes a sign of life, not death?
Be with us, O God, as we help survivors of raging waters,
And help us work to prevent such terrible destruction.
In the name of the One who offers hope,
Even Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.
Thoughts for the Day
Precipitation is indeed increasing. From a conceptual perspective, I would expect to see more peak flows coming off these surface mines.
- Nicholas Zegre, West Virginia hydrology professor
Every mountaintop mine in Appalachia no matter how old it is, is exporting really salty, high alkalinity waters, and it’s not declining,…all the water will come from valley fills, and will be laden with mountaintop mining pollution.
- Emily Bernhardt, Duke University biogeochemistry professor
Thus says the Lord: See, waters are rising out of the north,
And shall become an overflowing torrent,
They shall overflow the land and all tht fills it, the city and those who live in it.
People shall cry out, and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.
Jeremiah 47: 2