As of Wednesday, the number of people killed during Kentucky’s historic flooding stands at 37, and with more than 100 missing, it’s possible the death toll will continue to rise.
Gabriel Hensley, a father of five and hero who attempted to save others, is one of the more than two dozen who lost their lives.
“He was a hero,” his wife, Macy, told CNN. “He was the one that was out helping people instead of worrying about himself.”
Hensley, 30, had been working his shift in the coal mines when the historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky began. Disaster struck as he began to make his way home to his wife and five children, which included a 10-week-old baby.
“My husband was a family man and was doing anything to make it home to me and his children,” his wife Macy told the Herald Leader.
Floodwaters prevented Hensley from driving his usual way home, so he took a different route which made him cross paths with an accident.
Hensley had come across a person someone who had been injured when the floodwaters had swept them off their four-wheeler. He called his wife and then drove to his brother-in-law’s house which was nearby.
Chase Williams, Hensley’s brother-in-law, and Hensley returned to the scene, but couldn’t find the driver. The two decided it would be best if Hensley carefully made his way back home.
But as Hensley and Williams made their way down the road they encountered trouble.
“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 was able to escape through the passenger door and grab onto a tree branch, but Hensley was swept away.
“We looked for Gabe for a very long time that night but we could never find him,” he said.
It wasn’t until Sunday that his body was found.
“Eastern KY lost a hero,” Kent Daniels, Hensley’s cousin, said. “If he died helping someone out, that’s the definition of a hero.”
Hensley “was a hardworking Eastern Kentucky guy who would give you whatever he had,” and his family hopes that people will honor him by donating supplies to victims of the flood.
“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.”
All over Eastern Kentucky there are similar stories about people who lost their loved ones in the flood. My heart breaks for each and every one of them.
Please say a prayer for all of those impacted by the historic flooding.