2019 story about Kentucky attraction misleadingly shared after deadly floods

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

An article about Noah’s Ark, a Kentucky attraction, was widely shared on social media after the deadly summer 2022 floods. The story is real, but it has nothing to do with the recent floods – it was published in 2019 and focuses on another part of the US state.

“My whole life has culminated in the comedic perfection of this moment,” says a July 30, 2022 Tweeter share an article from CBS News.

The headline displayed in the post, which has racked up more than 85,000 likes, reads, “Kentucky Noah’s Ark sues insurance company for damage caused by heavy rain.”

Screenshot of a tweet from August 2, 2022

The claim also circulated on Instagram and TikTok. Some posts shared a screenshot of the tweet without a link to the original article.

The posts come after flash floods in Kentucky killed dozens in the eastern part of the state from late July. The flooding is the latest in a series of extreme weather events in the United States, which scientists believe are linked to climate change.

The article shared online is genuine. But the posts failed to mention that it was posted in 2019, while others incorrectly linked it to recent flooding in Kentucky, such as here, here and here.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on August 3, 2022

The story of Ark Encounter – a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark located in Williamstown, Kentucky – comes from The Associated Press (AP). CBS News published it in May 2019.

AP reported that heavy rains in 2017 and 2018 in the northern part of the state, where Ark Encounter is located, led the company behind the attraction to sue its insurer for flood damage. .

“The Ark Encounter says in a federal lawsuit that rains in 2017 and 2018 caused a landslide on its access road,” AP reported at the time. “The lawsuit says the road was rebuilt. The arch was not damaged.”

The case was settled in 2020 – and AFP confirmed that the site of the attraction was not damaged by recent flooding.

“The Ark has not been impacted at all, business is business as usual,” Ark Encounter spokeswoman Melany Ethridge said in an email to AFP.

She added that “the part of the state experiencing flooding is 2-3 hours” from the site.

Jane Marie Wix, meteorologist responsible for coordinating warnings at the National Weather Service (NWS), told AFP by e-mail: “The flooding targeted southeastern Kentucky, the Appalachian foothills, where the terrain mountainous exacerbated the amount of water flowing in the many streams and creeks, before eventually causing significant or even record floods on the waterways of this region.”

Before the floods, the region was already suffering from poverty, in part due to the decline of the coal industry that was once the heart of its economy. The NWS published a report on the historic July floods here.

AFP has verified other false and misleading flood claims here, here and here.

Keith P. Plain