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Conservation Officers Help Stranded Leslie County Residents

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Conservation officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are teaming with The Servant’s Closet and Leslie County government to deliver supplies to residents stranded by flooding in the headwaters of Buckhorn Lake.

“The lake is higher than I’ve ever seen it,” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Lt. Greg Watts. “The county was just overwhelmed. They didn’t have any boats or any way to get supplies to people, so we were happy to help them out.”

The Servant’s Closet, a Leslie County-based charity founded by Dana Watson, had collected supplies but couldn’t deliver them.

“Our employees don’t just live in a community, we are part of the community,” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm. “We knew we could help, so we deployed the people and equipment needed to assist those in trouble.”

Beginning Monday, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife responded with boats and conservation officers to navigate through the timber-choked floodwaters to reach approximately 50-100 households along KY 257. While some residents managed to leave before the floodwaters blocked the road, many remained behind.

Watts said conservation officers evacuated a person Tuesday who had medical conditions and did not wish to remain stranded at his house. Officers and county officials using department boats and a boat loaned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered some 70 boxes of food and water to residents on Thursday, Feb. 28. Conservation officers also boated employees of Kentucky Power to check electrical stations affected by the flooding.

“The people were really thankful,” Watts said. “They were glad to get any help that they could get.”

Conservation officers have special equipment and training to help people affected by natural disasters. Whether it’s pulling cars out of ditches in winter or traveling to Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, officers have a history of helping others.

“It’s just what we do,” Watts said. “It’s why we’re conservation officers. We’re there to serve the people of the commonwealth.”