NEEDVILLE – Volunteers from the gulf coast continued cleanup and recovery efforts in eastern Kentucky Tuesday, where the death toll stands at 37 after widespread flooding devastated the region.
“I’m seeing flooding like I haven’t seen since 2016 when we got founded,” said Rob Gaudet, founder of the Cajun Navy Ground Force.
Gaudet has chronicled the damage and efforts to clean up on the organization’s Facebook page since arriving in eastern Kentucky last week.
Gaudet, his team of volunteers, as well as other partners on the ground, spent Tuesday in Whitesburg, one of eastern Kentucky’s hardest hit communities.
While water has receded, thick mud remains in its wake, blanketing what the flood didn’t wash away.
“There’s over a foot of mud outside. It’s on the ground. It went into the roads. It got into homes,” Gaudet said.
Joel Barrios, owner of Bayou Boys Poboys in Needville, also documented his team’s efforts to feed communities devastated by flooding. A team of four, including Barrios, drove a food truck and a refrigerated truck to eastern Kentucky last week.
In total, Barrios said they cooked over 1,800 meals over the course of their three-day stay.
If he could have stayed longer, he said he would have.
“I don’t see it resolving itself as far as having people (being) back in their homes and back to what life was normally like, for another six months, I would assume,” Barrios said, adding his focus remains on helping those through food.
He said he plans to grow his efforts to do so while thinking of the people of Appalachia and their long road to recovery.
“Basically, a wall of water coming at them. That’s got to be terrifying.”
Both organizations continue to collect donations to assist with efforts. Bayou Boys has an option through PayPal. More information can be found by contacting them.
Meantime, donations to Cajun Navy Ground Force can be made by visiting its website.