“He was the one that was out helping people instead of worrying about himself.”
A father of five named Gabriel Hensley was discovered dead after stopping to aid an injured driver before being swept away by floodwaters.
Hensley, 30, is one of at least 37 people who perished in the flooding last week. Some communities are almost impossible to reach due to severely damaged infrastructure, and locating everyone will probably take several weeks, according to Governor Andy Beshear.
Hensley, a father of five, started his journey home early on Thursday morning after finishing his shift at coal mines in Perry County. His wife, however, claimed that the escalating waters soon rendered his usual return route impassable.
Instead, he chose a different path, which brought him to the site of a collision. Hensley told his wife over the phone that a four-wheeler driver was hurt when floodwaters threw him off his vehicle.
Hensley drove to his brother-in-house, law’s, which was close by, without thinking twice about requesting assistance for the injured driver. However, despite a thorough search when the two went back, they were unable to locate him, according to Chase Williams, Hensley’s brother-in-law.
Williams said they decided to assist in Hensley’s safe return home. Then, Hensley would walk to the other side of some hills, where a friend was waiting to pick him up and take him home to his family and drive them as far down the road — and as close to home — as possible. Hensley’s truck would be taken back to his house by the brother-in-law for storage.
“We got down the road a little bit but in a matter of minutes the water rose up enough where it picked up the truck and took us both into the creek,” Williams said.
Williams escaped through the passenger door, using a tree to lift himself and make it up to the creek’s bank, where he was able to use his phone’s flashlight to begin signaling for help.
When neighbors noticed the flash, they reacted, and the group started looking for Hensley. His body was found on Sunday. One of the kids he leaves behind is a son who is ten weeks old.
“He was a family man,” his wife said. “No matter the storm. No matter how bad it got. He just wanted to get home to his home and family.”
Many flood survivors are now in communities that have been completely destroyed. Numerous people have experienced home loss. Some people are still stranded due to washed-out roads, lack of access to electricity or clean water, inability to contact loved ones due to dropped cell service, and inability to obtain essential supplies, including medication.
And as those communities work to recover, this week’s scorching heat poses a new weather threat. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for eastern Kentucky from noon on Wednesday until Thursday night, which included the flood-stricken regions.
There is no greater sacrifice than to lay your life for the lives of others. The life of Gabriel was not spent for nothing. His rewards are true and will be completed in Heaven.
Continue to pray for comfort for his family and Kentucky during this time of distress.