01 March 2011

"God Willing, And the Creek Don't Rise"

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
1 March 2011

As I sumped my Eastern Kentucky basement, on the last day of February, and watched Long Branch of Garner Creek hurdle through my property before heading down our road to Garner Creek, I received word of an emergency just a few miles away.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of our wonderful emergency services, a woman's life was saved after her car plunged and submerged in the cold February waters on Four-Mile and Trace. Barbara Groves car lost control negotiating the wet road. Many locals said prayers for her and today the news said she was released from the hospital. My heartfelt wishes for her speedy recovery. My sincere praise for the many trained volunteers that are dedicated in protecting us here in Boyd County.

While discussing this with my family we remembered another rescue turned recovery exactly fifty years ago, February. Long Branch, Garner Creek, Trace Creek and many other small tributaries dump into the East Fork as it heads toward the river.

On February 22, 1961 Mildred Burns Banks and her sister Mary Burns Webb were returning from a visit at Kings Daughters Hospital along Route #180, very near Boyd County High School. The car "failed to negotiate a curve... ricocheted off a tree down a 10 foot embankment, crashed into a bridge abutment and flipped over in the water." Due to the heavy rains of East Fork it was described as at least five feet higher than normal and murky.

Both sisters were laid to rest in the Jeremiah Burns Cemetery on Route #3.

The sisters were issues of Jeremiah Burns [18 April 1858 VA-24 Jun 1932] and wife Minnie V. Kinner [1869-1946]. Their grandmother was Elvira J. Hogan who married Harvey Kinner.

It never ceases to leave me in awe when the rains start in our neck of the woods. The creek glistens with a pretty musical lilt on most days. I love to walk along the edge looking for treasures and watching the multitude of life that exists along and in it. Then as the water washes down the cliffs it is only a matter of sometimes minutes before it becomes a raging, dangerous power of nature.

The creek has always played a role in the development of the area. The creek bed along Garner was the path and roadway when the area was first developed. The road still follows its twists and turns. You can not tame it. The Clyde Ross Farm moved the creek to make way for more profitable fields. So did the Klaibers but when the rain starts you can still see the water struggling to use the old creek path.

We have many personal creek stories. We tell people that are visiting that they might want to leave when the rain starts or stay longer than expected. Those that don't listen turn back and sit a spell. It goes down as fast as it comes up.

A dear friend reminded me yesterday about the saying "Turn around, don't drown." We tend to think our cars are strong. I attempted - just once -to follow another vehicle as the waters were coming up. The back wheels rose and I began to feel like I was floating - gunning it the tires grabbed and I was lucky.

We tend to think of April showers but February seems to be the start of our flood "season." One hundred and thirty years ago, 23 February 1881 the Independent wrote "The iron bridge at Hood's Fork has been washed out by the recent floods, and turned clear over."

On 22 February 1883 the Independent reported "high water, everything flooded at Catlettsburg." At Rockville, Lawrence County the news reported "The river rose here within 18 inches of the rise of 1862 and 4 inches higher than 1875."

Then on Valentines Day, 14 February 1884, the paper reported that the 1884 flood "beats the record. Nothing like it since Adam's Noah!" The paper does not talk about the outlaying areas just the towns along the Ohio and Big Sandy. It must have been just as hard on the tributaries.

Before my readers ask why would anyone live near areas prone to the ravages of nature - the answer is simple. It is God's country and it is all part of God's plan. We continue to try to harness it. I grumble about my wet basement. Then hero's save a life and the sun comes out and I once again hear the lilt of the gentle stream and know I am where I belong.


  1. Please pray forBarbara after posting i have word she is not doing well..

  2. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Barbara Young Groves. May God surround them with warmth.http://dailyindependent.com/obituaries/x814631858/Barbara-Ann-Groves-1946-2011