TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Features

January 27, 2014

Rising Waters

CORBIN — Story by Noel H. Taylor

Jan. 29, 1957, began like any other late January day in southeastern Kentucky. The gray overcast clouds suggested another dreary dose of rain and a chilling breeze. Little thought had been given to the impact of the persistent deluge of rain that prevailed the past three days by the boy who was stirring from an undisturbed slumber. Just barely awake, the cold shivers from the first time his feet touched the bedroom’s hardwood floor were followed by the normal warmth of breakfast and preparation for another gloomy weather day ahead.

 His first venture to the outside involved the usual few steps necessary to retrieve the daily edition of the Courier-Journal, which had been delivered much earlier in the morning. The sleepy-eyed effort to get the paper masked any possibility of noticing anything unusual about the day except the sight of a few puddles forming in odd places next to the sidewalk. Not even the daily morning whistles from the Weed Laundry or L&N Railroad drew attention to anything except an expected casual day.

 Inside, morning routines were well underway when his mother looked through the living room window only to view water flowing past the driveway across the street. The family had never seen water form this far east on Hart Street. It was not unusual for the intersection of Ford and Hart to flood, temporarily, but for water to progress this far east of that point was an ominous sign to say the least.

 Ready for school, he proceeded to start each one of the three cars lined in front of the light blue, white trimmed A-framed house. Water had already begun to lap against the vehicle nearest Ford Street. As a fearful precaution, his father asked him to drive the cars to Engineer Street, which was a block up a hill from the rising water. By the time he had moved the third auto, his parents had begun to transfer food, clothing and other essentials across the garden path that linked their house with his grandparents’ two-story brick home at the foot of Sugar Hill.

 The flood waters rose relentlessly at a pace of one foot per hour between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. Every home on the street became vulnerable to the water’s search for a boundary. The family now realized their home would soon become inundated by a lake created by natural forces not seen in at least 50 years. Frantically, they piled priceless keepsakes, photos and even a baseball card collection on beds, chests, shelves or anything else seen as a dry refuge from the rising tide.

 Standing in a shallow pool of water on the bedroom floor, the young boy grabbed two drawers of clothing and a collie dog, “The Terror of Hart Street,” then fell behind his parents as they closed the back room door and waded across the path to the safe haven of the grandparents’ home.

 When they arrived, they were joined by two neighbors who had come to the same house for shelter during the coming catastrophe. By noon, the basement of the two-story home was completely flooded, and water crept above the baseboards on the first floor. Provisions were hastily determined for everyone to move to the four bedrooms and bath upstairs, their residence until the next day.

 The second-floor windows provided an incredible panoramic view of the murky waters that inundated the familiar streets and lawns. Below, a few boaters took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime occurrence to race through the newly-formed canals, creating a turbulence so powerful, window panes in doomed houses were shattered like the lives of their despondent residents.

Later in the afternoon, emergency officials piloted rescue vessels to conduct search missions for those stranded in homes engulfed by the ever-expanding Lynn Camp Creek. The gentle wakes from the craft reminded everyone how the caring spirit of the community became manifest in lives of those who risked their own safety to respond to fellow citizens in need.

 As the shades of evening were drawn on this seemingly endless January day, the marooned group gathered around a small radio to listen to the 6 o’clock newscast on WCTT. The reporter’s detailed tragic stories starkly reminded them that the day’s countless miseries had lots of company. Many businesses were ruined at a cost of more than two million dollars, homes were damaged and others destroyed. Schools were canceled indefinitely.

Later, the radio was silenced and the adults comforted themselves with hushed conversations about comfortable past memories tempered by the anxious inner thoughts about the immediate future.

 After darkness fell on the stricken community, the boy and his dog peered through a second floor dormer window overlooking the eerie sight below. A bedroom light in a house down Ford Street had just become visible as the murky waters began their merciful retreat. Above, the soft glow of a crescent moon illuminated the clear dark night ahead, only to give way to a new dawn the next day. In that single state of unforgettable togetherness, they shared a remarkable quiet sense that their lives had changed forever.

Noel Taylor was born and raised in Corbin. He is the author of “A History of Corbin,” published by the Friends of the Corbin Public Library in 2013. He is currently retired and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1
Text Only
Features
  • 0708 Kelsey White Miss Ky.jpg Local woman vyes for Miss Kentucky crown

    A Williamsburg woman is among the 32 contestants representing local scholarship pageants from across the state who will vye for the title of Miss Kentucky 2014. 

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0621 Flag Day-Legion.jpg Elks Lodge hosts Flag Day ceremony

    Tri-County Elks Lodge #2826 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America hosted a Flag Day ceremony Saturday, June 14.

    June 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0621 Zip Line.jpg Flying across Sheltowee

    There was a brief burst of laughter as they all joked about signing their lives away, but there was also a hint of nervousness about it.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rose Masters-ALA88 president.jpg Masters elected Legion Auxiliary 88 president

    Rose Masters (left) accepts her president’s gavel from Department of Kentucky Past President Brenda Berry during the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 88’s June meeting.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0619 Smart Shop.jpg Smart Shopping

    Andrew Pennington, 24, born and raised in Corbin, was also born into the retail business, with his parents, Tim and Sarah Pennington, operating the Pennington Block Company.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0616 Nelda Barton-Collings.jpg The life and death of Nelda

    Nelda Lambert Barton-Collings passed away Friday, and, according to U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, “Kentucky has lost a true jewel.”

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0611 storm damage 1.jpg Storm Damage June 10, 2014 Damage reports came from all across the Tri-County area after Tuesday’s storms swept through southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee.

    June 11, 2014 1 Story

  • 0602 Extraordinary Olympics-ceremony.jpg Going for the Gold

    Tisha Duncan received a gold medal at Saturday’s slalom event. Neither she, the spectators, nor those waiting at the finish line seemed to notice or even care that it took her a whopping 78 seconds to get there or that her feet never once touched the ground.

    June 2, 2014 5 Photos

  • 0530 Kristina Smith.jpg KPA intern joins the Times-Tribune staff

    Kristina Smith has joined the Times-Tribune staff this summer as an intern through the Kentucky Press Association.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0517 KSP Estes.jpg Selling Safety Through Magic

    Long before the days of email, smart phones and social media, one Kentucky State Police pioneer was blazing a trail using innovation and outside-the-box thinking to spread safety messages throughout Kentucky.

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter