Eastern Kentucky’s road to recovery after flooding

Eastern Kentucky’s road to recovery after flooding
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 6:57 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Catastrophic flooding rocked Eastern Kentucky communities in the summer of 2022.

Forty people were killed in the flooding.

“We made 1,400 rescues,” said Gov. Andy Beshear.

Since then, many families have called makeshift neighborhoods of travel trailers home.

“”I admit it’s going to take a bit longer in eastern Kentucky then western because it’s not safe to go back to that same place,” Beshear said. “We can’t rebuild a home that we know will flood again and that family might not make it out the next time.”

On Tuesday, Beshear announced the first plan to rebuild one of the impacted communities.

The governor said the initial building site is located in the community of Talcum, in Knott County near the Perry County line. The state initially secured 75 acres and can expand that to nearly 300 acres, which means the land not only provides a place to rebuild but is a place to grow for the future and attract new businesses. This is the first of several locations in Eastern Kentucky that are being considered for rebuilding projects. The state is currently evaluating multiple sites in four counties: Breathitt, Knott, Letcher and Perry. These counties combined account for 75% of the homes lost to flood damage.

“We’re actively purchasing on tracks of land in all the impacted counties. It’s an area where we can reimagine what the community looks like. We can rebuild the communities coal companies rebuilt over 100 years ago,” Beshear said.

Infrastructure projects will have multiple funding streams, including Eastern Kentucky SAFE funds, state transportation funds and federal ARPA funds.

Beshear said the rebuild of the communities will likely take between two to three years.