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At a distillery in flood-stricken Kentucky, there's mud everywhere

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

To Whitesburg, Ky., now, where people are still reeling from the devastating flash floods that have killed at least 35 people in the state. Joining me now is Colin Fultz. He is the owner of Kentucky Mist Distillery in Whitesburg. Welcome.

COLIN FULTZ: Thanks for having me on.

CHANG: Well, thank you for being with us. Can I just first ask you, how are you holding up?

FULTZ: Well, it is pretty devastating the first day when you walk in and see that the distillery was flooded. You know, that was pretty bad.

CHANG: Yeah.

FULTZ: And then you just kind of kick into cleaning and getting it back to where it needs to be.

CHANG: Well, I know on Friday you told us that there was just, like, mud everywhere in the distillery. How are things looking right now?

FULTZ: So since Friday, we've worked through the weekend and everything. And, you know, like, the first raw cleaning of getting the mud out is the most important. And then we'll just go from there. But it will probably be another week of doing that, and we've not even started on the basement yet.

CHANG: Oh, God. What does the basement look like at this point?

FULTZ: Oh, man, it just looks - just devastating. There's probably 2 inches of mud in the top part of the distillery, and there's probably more like 8 inches of mud in the basement.

CHANG: What about power? Do you have problems with electricity at this point?

FULTZ: OK, so the distillery is in Whitesburg, so the town has power. And I live about 10 minutes outside of town, and we only got power back last night. But a lot of places still don't have power, and nobody really has water yet. In Whitesburg, we have a little bit of water, but we're running real short.

CHANG: So are you mainly drinking out of bottles at this point?

FULTZ: Anything that we drink comes from a bottle, yup.

CHANG: OK. But is there enough water to clean the mud out of your distillery?

FULTZ: Right now, what we have - we have enough to get it out 'cause we actually have a well that we can use from.

CHANG: I see.

FULTZ: So we're actually using out of that for the moment.

CHANG: And what about internet access?

FULTZ: No internet.

CHANG: No internet at all. OK.

FULTZ: No internet - so we don't know what's happened, if anybody even knows what happened here or - so, like, my daughter lives about three hours away, so my whole family - we can't call and text each other, but we can all reach her. So the whole family takes and checks in with her...

CHANG: Oh.

FULTZ: ...Because it don't go - it won't go straight from place to place here, you know?

CHANG: I see. Your daughter is now the hub for the family.

FULTZ: Yeah, she is.

CHANG: And how is the rest of your family doing?

FULTZ: Well, my sister-in-law lost her home.

CHANG: Oh.

FULTZ: And my niece lost hers. But, you know, other than that, we're all safe and everything.

CHANG: Where are your sister-in-law and your niece staying then at the moment?

FULTZ: With family.

CHANG: OK.

FULTZ: So everybody just has to stay, like - we have a friend coming to our house. We have, like, a pool house, and they'll come there and stay tonight. And then people just taking in everybody that has lost everything, you know?

CHANG: Have you gotten any assistance from the state or federal government at this point?

FULTZ: We've not saw FEMA at all.

CHANG: Really.

FULTZ: Not saw FEMA at all - the distillery's right next door to the health department for Kentucky, and Kentucky has sent a catastrophic response team. And they have a trailer set up here, and they're working at the health department to try to get that reestablished so that they will have what they need there. But as far as everything else, like, people's out cleaning off the roads with their own personal equipment and stuff, trying so we can get out to get to where we need. And then last night, it flooded again on top of what we already had. So some of it had been cleaned up, and then it washed right back out again yesterday.

CHANG: How long do you think it'll be before you can get your distillery back in shape to open?

FULTZ: I would hope within a couple weeks.

CHANG: OK.

FULTZ: Yeah, I would think. But I hope to have it back running within two weeks would be my goal.

CHANG: Well, I wish you the best of luck, Colin. Colin Fultz is the owner of Kentucky Mist Distillery in Whitesburg, Ky. I hope you and your family stay very safe. Thank you so much.

FULTZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.