Firefighters perform water rescues at an animal hospital

RUSSELL, Ky. (WSAZ) – A heavy downpour on Friday afternoon caused flash flooding in Russell.

Water seeped into homes and businesses and covered roads, creating a traffic nightmare.

“We had several feet of water in the space of about 20 minutes,” said Bob Nolan, deputy chief of the Russell Fire Department. “We had to shut off the gas to some homes in downtown Russell due to basement flooding.”

Nolan says that, as usual, several drivers attempted to navigate high water — with predictable results.

“We carried out several water rescues on Boulevard Diederich,” he said. “They don’t understand that a few inches of water will cause your car to float, and they drive through feet of water.”

Dr. Amy Bess is the owner of Bellefonte Animal Hospital.

“It was above my knees,” she said.

She says the water rose so quickly that she, her staff, a few customers and a dozen dogs and cats got stranded as the water continued to rise and enter the building.

“We had small dogs and cats that we put in higher cages,” she said.

Fire crews used boats to transport everyone, including pets, to land.

“It was all about getting people out,” Bess said. “I had a few customers who had just come through the door to pick up their animals, and in the five minutes or so they were at the door, they couldn’t turn around and come back.”

“Animals weren’t easy to control during this time,” Nolan said. “We had to wrap them in blankets, put them in cages, pens, things like that to get them out.”

The rescued animals are staying at another pet care clinic in Flatwoods until everything is cleaned up.

“Now that I see everyone is safe and everything is fine and I haven’t lost anything vital, I’m starting to lose it,” an emotional Bess said. “It’s really hard to hold on.”

It’s going to be a busy cleaning week, but Dr Bess says she hopes they can start treating animals again on Monday.

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Benjamin M. Yerger