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Living Lands and Waters helping clean up waterways after Kentucky tornadoes

Chad Pregracke and his team have been cleaning up Kentucky Lake since December 23, 2021
Chad Pregracke and his team have been cleaning up Kentucky Lake since December 23, 2021.
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 4:27 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 5:53 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - It has been nearly two months since tornadoes devastated parts of Kentucky, and now the local non-profit organization, Living Lands and Waters, is helping clean up debris at Kentucky Lake and Land Between the Lakes.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of debris from the December 10, 2021 tornado have already been removed, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

The sounds of excavators fill the air at Kentucky Lake, as living lands and waters continues to clean up after a devastating EF-4 tornado with 190 mile per winds tossed massive amounts of debris into the water.

“When we saw the devastation and how it went over Kentucky Lake, which is essentially the Tennessee River, and how much debris was in the water, meaning sunken boats and cars and millions of pounds of stuff. We knew we had to go and we knew it had to be immediately,” said Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters.

Just as the barge and equipment were being docked for the winter in Memphis, Tennessee, Pregracke ordered the barge to be docked in Kentucky after the tornado, and the team hit the ground running.

“We, you know, just went out and started picking up the boats that are half sunk all over, and docks and cars. I mean, we were doing like one or two barge loads a day which is hard to comprehend for most,” said Pregracke.

Drone footage shows the extent of the devastation at the lake.

“It was a dangerous mess. Everything was just all over,” said Pregracke.

Similar to the Quad Cities area, waterways in the western part of Kentucky are a daily part of life.

“The locals down there are really, really happy that we’re there doing it, because there is nobody else focused on the water. There, it’s a huge source of income. It’s a huge economic driver for the whole county,” said Pregracke.

Pregracke estimates he and his team are pulling 50,000 to 100,000 pounds of debris per day.

So far, there have been more than 70 semi-loads of debris removed with no signs of the team slowing down.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all that we end up doing over a million pounds of debris out there. There’s a lot of stuff. It’s pretty devastating,” said Pregracke.

While December through March are generally a slow time for cleaning up waterways, Pregracke had no problem lending a hand.

“We’re happy to be there using ouR equipment and skill set, and work ethic to make a difference.”

If you would like to volunteer with cleanup efforts in Kentucky, you can e-mail your contact information to Rachel at rachel@livinglandsandwaters.org. You can also visit Living Lands and Waters website.

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