Many people in the Forkland community will always remember the morning of June 18, 1992. Our beautiful little valley, framed by a ridge of scenic knobs swelled with roaring flood waters. Every creek and stream rising beyond capacity as approximately 4 inches of rain fell within an hour.
I had been running the store for a little over six years. I awoke that morning to fog hovering over the creek that twisted and turned behind the building. The radio was giving out flash flood watches for Kentucky and Boyle County. Several of my regulars had been in to get a cup of coffee and leave to start their work day. We all knew the local creeks and streams could be dangerous, but business was being conducted as usual at my place.
Hubert came into the store to get his morning coffee and we talked about the weather reports.
My phone rang and Hubert answered it for me. It was Peg calling to tell me to get out of the store because the creeks were rising near his place.
Hubert and I checked the creek behind the store and you could see the bottom. The curving, little creek was calm but I decided to leave because it was raining so hard and I knew it could get bad.
I walked out the front door and called to Ed Eisenbeis, a friend, that rented the building next door to do furniture refinishing. I told him we had better leave.
Before we could leave the premises, my pepsi delivery man arrived and we waited for him to unload my order. A total of about ten minutes. The water was starting to rise in back of the store as the pepsi truck left.
I took the money from the register and Ed and I started to my car. It was too late! A wall of water over our heads was coming down the road toward the front of the store. We ran back inside and was trapped in the building.
The doors on the three car shed next to the store began to creak and bang. They dislocated from the building and floated by us as we silently watched from the windows of the market.
Next, my Mercury Cougar backed out of the shed and headed down the road as if someone was driving it. The “green goddess” Chevy wagon floated by backwards, and Ed’s Suburu Brat truck was picked up and the back end set down on the store porch.
A very large tractor with a cab on it, belonging to a local farmer, parked on a goose-neck trailer, came down the road and lodged in my parking lot.
The three car shed exploded and the roof wrapped around a telephone pole on the right side of the store. My propane tank broke loose and began spewing five hundred gallons of gas into the air as it disappeared from sight.
(The shed that washed away, the basketball goal the roof wrapped around and my car that washed away.)
We saw water coming in the store through the floor and thought the next thing it would be coming through the walls and the building would come down or explode like the shed. The water had surrounded us on all sides and was so high and swift there was no way out. We were terrified!
We thought surely we were going to drown. Ed and I could both swim but an olympic swimmer couldn’t make it through that roaring, rolling current. Plus, the debris would have killed anyone.
In addition to the vehicles, there was roll bales of hay, tractor tires, logs, mailboxes, blacktop, fences and huge rocks being washed down the road in front and back of the building.
Ed began calling Rescue 911 to ask for help. The only way out for us would have to be by helicopter. The dispatcher was no help. We called the National Guard and was told to call the Mayor of the City of Danville. The Mayor’s Office did not answer. We called the County Judge-Executive, Mary Pendygraft, and she tried to help us. Judge Pendygraft contacted Frankfort for a helicopter and kept in constant touch.
Suddenly, as quickly as it started, the rain stopped and the flooding started to recede. The water went down almost as fast as it came up. Tracy Mills, a neighbor, in a four-wheel-drive
truck was able to rescue us and get us to safety.
Residents in the area lost a lot of property. Tobacco and corn crops were ruined and we were knee deep in mud. I lost a building, two cars, a lot of small items and my property and store was a mess. These material things did not bother me. I was glad to just be alive!
The next day was a beautiful, gorgeous, day in Forkland. Clean up crews were at work and people in the community stopped to visit and help each other. You could almost step across the little creek behind the grocery without getting your feet wet. I swore when I got out alive that I would never stay in my home another night. Two days later, everything looked different. The Fork was calm and serene again. We were all so thankful no one was hurt or killed. I had always heard of flash floods but I had never seen or been through one.
The green wagon was pulled out of the creek and started right up with water running out of every crevice and covered with mud inside and out. The Cougar was in the top of a tree about a mile down the road. It was beyond repair and had to be totaled. My propane tank was found about fifteen miles away lodged near a bridge.
Every time it rained after this experience I was terrified it would happen again.
The only thing that saved the store building that day was the roof that wrapped around the telephone pole next to the store and parted the water making it run in the front and back instead of hitting it directly. Many times in my life there has been someone up there watching over me. The day I was trapped in that store I truly thought I would never be alive today to tell this story.