Woman who helped after EKY flooding shares similar experiences in Ian’s aftermath

Woman who helped after EKY flooding shares similar experiences in Ian’s aftermath
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 4:02 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT
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FLORIDA (WKYT) - As Hurricane Ian lashes parts of South Carolina, people in southwest Florida are beginning to pick up the pieces from the storm.

Ian hit the Fort Myers area Wednesday afternoon as a borderline category five storm.

Pike County, Ky. native Melissa Ratliff rode out the hurricane in Florida. Ratliff works with our sister station WWSB in Sarasota.

In July, Ratliff came back to Kentucky for work. She told us what she experienced then, was similar to what she’s hearing now.

“When I was in the WYMT newsroom, and when I was in Gainesville, when I’m here, hearing these water rescues and hearing of people still being stuck, and not being able to get out,” Ratliff said.

WWSB sent her to lend a helping hand during the flooding in Eastern Kentucky in July. Earlier this week, they sent her to Gainesville, while they prepped for a hurricane.

“I was the only one evacuated out of the newsroom just in case things were to fail, and then I would have to jump on the live desk remotely in Gainesville, take over the coverage,” she said.

Ratliff told WKYT that driving back to her apartment, she saw downed trees and debris, and businesses that are closed, some for damage, others for lack of product.

“You see all these places that are out of gas completely, you know have garbage bags over the handles,” she said.

They’ve taken some calls from people looking for loved ones or asking for help. That included a woman whose friend was stuck on a roof with her six-year-old son. Rescue crews told them they were on their way.

“I called Desoto county, they were like, we have the address, we just have so many water rescues, but we are coming. It’s just taking a long time to get them out,” Ratliff said.

She took comfort in another similarity, knowing people were on their way to help pick up the pieces.

“It feels like there’s just always someone willing to come in if necessary,” she said.