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Middlesboro residents sue coal companies over flood

8:06 PM, Nov 30, 2011   |    comments
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Some Middlesboro residents are holding local coal companies responsible for this summer's destructive floods.

Forty-nine Middlesboro residents are suing nine local coal companies because they believe their inaction led to the floods.

Previous Story: Middlesboro cleans up following devastating floods 

Attorney Ned Pillersdorf said the companies were cited by the state of Kentucky, prior to the floods, for not reclaiming their lands.  Reclamation is the process of stabilizing mountain land by adding soil and vegetation.

"When you fail to reclaim, it [the land] doesn't absorb the water and you get the type of horrific flooding that occured in Middlesboro" Pillersdorf said.

The nine companies named in the lawsuit include Appolo Fuels Inc., Bell County Coal Corp, Strata Mining, Twin Star Coal Company, C&L Highwall Mining Partnership, LC&C Energy Inc., T&T Energy Inc., Stony Fork Mining Inc., and Tackett Creek Mining Inc.

Read the entire lawsuit here

Earlier in the summer, the Bell and Whitley Community Action Agency told 10News more than 200 homes and business owners were affected by the floods.

One of those people were Donna Powers, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  She said the flood damaged her house, leaving 13 inches of mud in her garage.

"They [the coal companies] have totally disregarded the safety of the people below them," Powers said.

Viola Carroll, Powers' neighbor, is also a plaintiff in the case.  She said she saw the flood water come down a mountain-side before it started in pooling Middlesboro.

"Every time it rains, I think it's going to come the mountain like it did the time before," Carroll said.

10News contacted all of the coal companies listed in the suit.  The only one reached said "no comment".

One of those companies talked to the Lexington Herald-Leader November 29.  A spokesperson told the paper whenever it rains ten inches in a place like Middlesboro, the city can expect to get floods.

While Carroll said she does not want to see the companies go out of business, she did say she hopes they learn from their alleged mistakes.

"If this hadn't of happened, they would have kept getting away with it," Carroll said.

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