The evening of July 17, 2010, proved to be devastating for two Pike County communities.
That evening, a series of thunderstorms pelted the Raccoon Creek and Harless Creek communities with upwards of seven inches of rain over the course of a few hours. The results were floodwaters that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and structures in the two communities.
According to the National Weather Service, thunderstorms developed and moved into the area around 4 p.m. on July 17, 2010. Subsequent storms that evening “redeveloped and moved repeatedly over the same locations, producing flash flooding,” the weather service says. The flooding was blamed for two deaths: A man who fell from a bridge on U.S. 119 overlooking Raccoon Creek as he attempted to view the flooding and check on a relative’s property; and a Pikeville woman who was swept away in the swollen Chloe Creek while she attempted to move vehicles out of the way of rising waters.
As daybreak arrived the following day, the damage was clear, with hundreds of homes, other structures and vehicles damaged or destroyed and scores of residents walking out of their devastated communities carrying what little they could salvage from their homes. The Federal Emergency Management Administration responded to the event.
Residents of Harless Creek filed a lawsuit against the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet claiming that rainwater runoff from an unreclaimed surface mine caused Harless Creek to turn into a “raging river.” According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit was settled, the terms of which were confidential.
Some of the areas where residences stood prior to the July 17, 2010, floods remain vacant.