2019 story about Kentucky attraction misleadingly shared after deadly floods

·3 min read

An article about Noah's Ark, an attraction in Kentucky, has been shared widely on social media after deadly summer 2022 flooding. The story is real, but it is unrelated to the recent floods -- it was published in 2019 and focuses on a different part of the US state.

"My whole life has led up to the comedic perfection of this moment," says a July 30, 2022 tweet sharing an article from CBS News.

The headline shown in the post, which accumulated more than 85,000 likes, says: "Kentucky Noah's Ark sues insurance company over damage caused by heavy rains."

Screenshot of a tweet taken August 2, 2022

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

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

The article shared online is genuine. But the posts failed to mention it was published in 2019, while others wrongly tied it to recent flooding in Kentucky, such as here, here and here.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken August 3, 2022

The story about 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 insurance carrier for damages caused by the deluge.

"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 has been rebuilt. The ark was not damaged."

The case was settled in 2020 -- and AFP confirmed the site of the attraction was not damaged by recent floods.

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

She added that "the part of the state experiencing floods is 2-3 hours away" from the site.

Jane Marie Wix, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS), told AFP by email: "The flooding targeted southeast Kentucky, the foothills of the Appalachians, where mountainous terrain exacerbated the amount of water flowing into the many creeks and streams, before eventually causing significant to record-breaking rises on the rivers in this region."

Prior to the floods, the region was already suffering from poverty, driven in part by the decline of the coal industry that was once the heart of its economy. The NWS published a report about the historic July flooding here.

AFP has fact-checked other false and misleading claims about floods here, here and here.

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