Kentucky Flooding: Crews Work to Reopen Roads, Bridges

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Updated Aug 8, 2022
Kentucky floods KY 343 bridge in McRoberts washed out
The KY 343 in McRoberts, Kentucky, was among the bridges washed out in historic flooding.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12

Some bridges and roads in eastern Kentucky remain closed due to historic flooding that struck the region July 28.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reported August 6 that all 1,098 bridges in the area have been, and 84% of them had been inspected. It said 21 were impassable.

KYTC crews and contractors have been out repairing and reopening roads. The agency has also been helping to get travel trailers set up as temporary shelters for displaced residents, with 59 delivered as of August 3.

“The cabinet continues to deliver supplies – especially water,” KYTC says. “We are also delivering equipment, including dump trucks and storage trailers.” Materials, such as pipes, are being hauled in daily by the cabinet for flood-damaged roads. Personnel from five KYTC districts outside of the flooded areas were also deployed to help clear and repair roads.

kentucky floods aerial view of flooded homes businessesKentucky Transportation CabinetThe flooding was the result of thunderstorms between July 25 and 30 that brought heavy rain, flash flooding and overflowed rivers, according to the National Weather Service. Rain in excess of 4 inches an hour fell at times during that period, with a total estimate of 14 to 16 inches, with most of the rain falling July 27-28.

“These rainfall values occurring in such a short period of time are incredibly rare,” the service says. “There is less than a 1 in 1,000 chance for this much rainfall over five days in a given year.”

In some cases, roads that had been cleared in the early flooding were flooded again from more heavy rain.

kentucky floods Komatsu and Deere excavators work to clean a Clay County road damaged by mudslideCleaning up after a mudslide and road damage following flooding in Clay County, Kentucky.Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 11Major road repairs began August 1 in KYTC District 10, which includes Breathitt and Perry counties. Contractor crews drilled steel to repair four major breaks on three routes, as well as other repairs. A contractor crew is working to remove a large slide on KY 267 in Perry County. KYTC estimates state highways in Breathitt and Perry counties face $13 million to $15 million in damages. Five locations on four state highways remain closed as of August 8. 

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Crews in District 11 were cleaning up mudslides on roads in Harlan and Clay counties.

In District 12, crews were contending with a swollen Dewey Lake, which had made roads in Floyd County impassable. Lake levels have fallen, and KYTC reports that all flooded roads are now passable.

The video below shot August 2 by KYTC District 12 shows a mobile home that was carried by floodwaters and covered a road in Letcher County:

Scenes from the floods

kentucky floods car over muddy bank of swollen brown water creekKentucky Transportation Cabinet

Kentucky floods KY 550 flooded Knott County brown water over roads around homesFloodwaters in Knott County, Kentucky, on KY 550.Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12

kentucky floods collapsed road with housing debris in middle of sinkhole in roadKentucky Transportation Cabinet