National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

CONTACT:  Tony Edwards, 606-666-2560 ext. 726            UPDATED: Tuesday, August 30, 2016


(JACKSON, Kentucky) – "Turn around, don't drown".  That flood safety warning will be seen on bright yellow signs around several Eastern Kentucky counties, thanks to a cooperative effort between the National Weather Service and local Emergency Management.

Bath, Breathitt, Johnson, Magoffin and Owsley Counties were selected to receive a limited number of signs made available nationwide by National Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.  Emergency Management in these counties submitted requests detailing flood prone locations and an outreach plan for the sign installation. 

Signs have already been installed on McCullough Hollow Road and McCarty Branch Road in Bath County, marking a location that is particularly vulnerable to flash flooding in the Salt Lick community.

Bath County Emergency Management Director Jason York (right) with NWS Jackson, KY Warning Coordination Meteorologist Tony Edwards (left) at Turn Around, Don't Drown sign installed on McCullough Hollow Road near Salt Lick, KY.


Jason York, Bath County Emergency Management Director said, "I want to thank the National Weather Service for supplying my county with these signs.  The signs will be used as a springboard to purchase additional signs to install at other flood prone areas in Bath County."

Signs have also been distributed to Johnson County in order to mark a flood prone area on KY 1107 at Davis Branch, to Owsley County to mark one of the first locations in the county to flood when the Kentucky River rises on Old Highway 11 just inside the city limits of Booneville, and to Breathitt County for installation on Wolverine Road and Highway 476.

Johnson County Judge Executive Tucker Daniel (right) and Paintsville/Johnson County Emergency Management Director Gary McClure (left) receive signs which will be posted at a flood prone area on KY 1107 at Davis Branch. Owsley County EM Director James Pendergrass (left) receives signs which will be posted to mark a flood prone area on Old Highway 11 just inside the city limits of Booneville.
Breathitt County Judge Executive John Lester Smith (right) and Breathitt County Emergency Management Director Chris Friley (center left) receive signs which will be posted at flood prone areas on Wolverine Road and Highway 476.


Additional signs will be installed at the following locations over the next couple of weeks:

  • Magoffin County on KY 7 near Magoffin County School Board, Bus Garage and Head Start

Even though Kentucky accounts for slightly over 1 percent of the U.S. population, flood deaths over the past 20 years in the state have accounted for almost 5 percent of the total flood deaths in the country.  Most of those deaths, 63 percent, were the result of motorists driving into flood waters.

This trend continued in 2015, a year that featured the most flood deaths in the Commonwealth since the floods of 1997.  In total, ten people lost their lives in flooding across the state last year, with six deaths occurring as motorists attempted to drive into flood waters.  This included a 63 year old female who drowned on April 3rd in Lee County when she attempted to drive into flood waters on Highway 52, and a 56 year old male who was swept away and drowned on July 13th in the Flatgap community of Johnson County when flood waters surrounded his SUV.

“Most flood deaths are easily preventable,” said Tony Edwards, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, KY.  “Often times it’s as easy as turning around, finding an alternate route, or waiting for the flood waters to recede.  Hopefully these signs will be a reminder of that fact and save lives,” Edwards added.

The National Weather Service’s flood safety program warns citizens to never drive into flood waters.  Many people underestimate the power of flood waters as most vehicles can be swept away by as little as two feet of flowing water.  Even if the water doesn’t look deep, flooded roads can have significant damage hidden by the water.  The best choice is to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

More information on how to respond to flooding before, during and after the event can be found online at