(WFXR) — There are many ways a disaster can affect a community’s infrastructure, as well as the people who live in it. Flood victims in Kentucky are witnessing this horror firsthand.

According to Dr. Robert Weiss — a professor at Virginia Tech who studies natural hazards — steep valleys and intense rainfall are a recipe for disaster. In Kentucky, these topographical factors played a big role in the deadly floods

“It’s a very rural area, very similar to the Appalachian Mountains,” said Weiss.

The professor says a devastating flood isn’t out of the question for some local communities with the same topography.

“I urge everyone to listen to those flash flood warnings because they can save your life,” Weiss said.

There is a big question that looms over Kentucky and any disaster zone — when will life go back to what it was?

“Building up the physical infrastructure there might not be as much of an issue,” Weiss explained. “However, the emotional damage that has been done, the sense of insecurity because of that is something that will take much longer to repair.”

According to the professor, a disaster can also have an effect on the economy, with people not working because their place of work doesn’t exist anymore or they’re rebuilding their home.

However, Weiss says Kentucky is receiving a lot of help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and an outpouring of donations.