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Kentucky flood victims feel forgotten, still need to rebuild


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(NewsNation) — It has been six months since record flooding in July devastated the state of Kentucky, leaving a large portion of the state still unable to rebuild.

Severe storms brought heavy rain, wind and flooding to the eastern part of the state, sweeping away homes and drowning towns in water and mud. As a result, 44 people died.

“Everything you’ve worked for, your whole life, is gone,” Hazard resident Nancy Barnett said. “And I still have nightmares.”

For those who survived, many still don’t have a home to live in.

The first part of a new rebuilding plan is expected to begin this year.

Barnett’s family has lived on the same creekbed for decades. But now, it’s almost unrecognizable.

“It doesn’t feel like home, it doesn’t feel like home,” she said.

The flood waters were so strong that they ripped entire homes and communities from their foundations and uprooted entire trees.

In December, the death toll rose to 44.

“It’s going to take years to rebuild,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “We continue to find bodies.”

And 176 days later, homes like Hazard resident Noah Miller’s are still destroyed. Miller offered NewsNation a tour of his home. He said he was denied help from FEMA twice.

“They need to help the people. You know, not just me,” Miller said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $80 million in relief for Kentucky flood victims. However, about 850 locals are still displaced and the help hasn’t come fast enough for a community where nearly 17 percent of households live on less than $1,000 a month.

“They’re doing what they can for themselves, but they don’t have the money to buy materials or relocate,” Scott McReynolds said.

McReynolds is the executive director of the Housing Development Alliance. He said that many have applied for FEMA aid, but in some cases, families are only getting a few hundred dollars.

“FEMA gets a bad wrap, but they’re operating under the rules Congress set. And under the rules Congress set, the maximum any one person can get from FEMA to replace their house is $37,900.” McReynolds said.

Eric Combs, another Kentucky resident displaced by the floods, also spoke with NewsNation, showing the team around his campground. The state provided mobile homes for families displaced by the floods to live in.

Combs said he has received more support from the kindness of strangers than those in the government.

“We have a great community here, everybody really throws in. But in a way, I do feel like we’ve been forgotten by the government a little bit,” Combs said.

  • JACKSON, KY – JULY 30: Haley Gayheart helps clean photos at the house of a friend who is eight months pregnant and unable to clean, July 30, 2022 in Jackson, Kentucky. At least 26 people have been killed in the state, with hundreds rescued, but many still unaccounted for due to flooding after heavy rainfall. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • JACKSON, KY – JULY 30: Command Sergeant Major Tim Lewis of the Kentucky National Guard secures Candace Spencer, 24, while she holds her son Wyatt Spencer, 1, after being airlifted on July 30, 2022 from South Fork, Breathitt County, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • JACKSON, KY – JULY 30: Chris Spencer, 24, holds onto Sergeant Thorin Brant of the Kentucky National Guard after being airlifted from South Fork, Kentucky as the Kentucky National Guard fly a recon and rescue mission on July 30, 2022 in Breathitt County near Jackson, Kentucky. Flood waters have receded but still surround the town. At least 25 people have been killed in the state, with hundreds rescued, but many still unaccounted for amid flooding after heavy rainfall. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • TOPSHOT – A Perry County school bus, along with other debris, sits in a creek near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31, 2022. – Rescuers in Kentucky are taking the search effort door-to-door in worsening weather conditions as they brace for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the state’s east, its governor said on July 31, 2022. (Photo by seth herald / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • FILE – Damage from flooding is visible at Isom IGA in Isom, Ky., Aug. 1, 2022. The grocery store was ravaged by historic floods last week, and the store’s inventory was spoiled by the flood waters. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, File)
  • FILE – A bridge along KY-3351 over Troublesome Creek near Ary in Perry County, Ky., remains damaged Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, following flooding the week before that devastated many counties in Eastern Kentucky. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, File)
  • In this aerial photo, some homes in Breathitt County, Ky., are still surrounded by water on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing multiple people. A thin film of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
  • In this aerial image, the river is still high around the homes in Breathitt County, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Recovery has begun in many of the narrow hollers after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more at least two dozen people. A layer of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, center, answers question from residents of Knott County Ky., that have been displaced by floodwaters at the Knott County Sportsplex in Leburn, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • A Perry County school bus lies destroyed after being caught up in the floodwaters of Lost Cree in Ned, Ky., (Timothy D. Easley/The Associated Press)
  • Paul Francis describes how flood waters damaged his property in Garrett, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Francis was born in the home 73 years ago but his wife wants to leave the area because of the flooding. The tiny town of Garrett was completely under water when floodwaters struck eastern Kentucky last week. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan)
  • In this aerial image, the river is still high around the homes in Breathitt County, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Recovery has begun in many of the narrow hollers after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more at least two dozen people. A layer of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
  • This July 28, 2022 photo provided by Appalshop shows the flooded Appalshop building in Whitesburg, Ky. The cultural center known for chronicling Appalachian life is cleaning up and assessing its losses. Like much of its stricken region, Appalshop has been swamped by historic flooding. The water inundated downtown Whitesburg in southeastern Kentucky, causing extensive damage to the renowned repository of Appalachian history and culture. (Appalshop via AP)
  • In this aerial image, some homes in Breathitt County, Ky., are still surrounded by water on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more than two dozen people. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
  • in this aerial photo, some homes in Breathitt County, Ky., are still surrounded by water on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing multiple people. A thin film of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP)
  • Homes are flooded by Lost Creek, Ky., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Bonnie Combs, right, hugs her 10-year-old granddaughter Adelynn Bowling watches as her property becomes covered by the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Men ride in a boat along flooded Wolverine Road in Breathitt County, Ky., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Homes are flooded by Lost Creek, Ky., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Homes are flooded by Lost Creek, Ky., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Volunteers and city workers try to reconnect the water supply to a nursing home in Elkhorn City, Ky., on Friday, July 29, 2022. The pipe, along with some of KY-197, washed away yesterday when the Russell Fork flooded. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • People work to clear a house from a bridge near the Whitesburg Recycling Center in Letcher County, Ky., on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Buildings and roads are flooded near Lost Creek, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s some of the worst flooding in state history. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
  • Members of the Winchester, Ky., Fire Department walk inflatable boats across flood waters over Ky. State Road 15 in Jackson, Ky., to pick up people stranded by the floodwaters Thursday, July 28, 2022. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • Members of the Lexington, Winchester, and Clark County Fire Departments and emergency medical services, coordinate efforts to get evacuees across the flooded Troublesome Creek in Jackson, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • HAZARD, KY – AUGUST 06: Kayla Everidge, Alexis Mullins and Sean Hughes pull floorboards from a relatives house that was mostly submerged during the flooding on August 6, 2022 near Hazard, Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky residents have lost their homes after rainstorms flooded the area over the past week. The death toll stands at 37 people. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • HAZARD, KY – AUGUST 06: Fred Neace overlooks his bare kitchen floor after the boards were torn up following the flood damage on August 6, 2022 near Hazard, Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky residents have lost their homes after rainstorms flooded the area over the past week. The death toll stands at 37 people. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • HAZARD, KY – AUGUST 06: Mike Gayheart takes a break from tearing up his father-in-laws kitchen floor following the flood damage on August 6, 2022 near Hazard, Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky residents have lost their homes after rainstorms flooded the area over the past week. The death toll stands at 37 people. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
  • (L-R) US President Joe Biden, US First Lady Jill Biden, and Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky, look at a bus that was swept away by flood waters as they survey damage in Lost Creek, Kentucky, on August 8, 2022. – President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden are visiting Eastern Kentucky on Monday to meet with families impacted by the deadly flooding. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The US presidential motorcade drives past heavily damaged homes, caused by flood waters in Lost Creek, Kentucky, on August 8, 2022. – President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden are visiting Eastern Kentucky on Monday to meet with families impacted by the deadly flooding. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Donated clothing to help in the ongoing response efforts to devastating flooding, are seen inside the gym at Marie Roberts Elementary School, in Lost Creek, Kentucky on August 8, 2022. – President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden are visiting Eastern Kentucky on Monday to meet with families impacted by the deadly flooding. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
  • US President Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden listen as Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky (C), speaks after meeting with a family who lost their home to flood waters in Lost Creek, Kentucky, on August 8, 2022. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
  • US President Joe Biden (C) speaks with families impacted by flood waters in Lost Creek, Kentucky, on August 8, 2022. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Members of the Lexington Kentucky Fire Department search and rescue team search an area for survivors in Jackson County, Kentucky, on July 31, 2022. – Rescuers in Kentucky are taking the search effort door-to-door in worsening weather conditions as they brace for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the state’s east, its governor said on July 31, 2022. (Photo by SETH HERALD / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Debris surrounds Buckhorn school, which was badly damaged during historic flooding, in Buckhorn, Kentucky, on July 31,2022. – Rescuers in Kentucky are taking the search effort door-to-door in worsening weather conditions as they brace for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the state’s east, its governor said on July 31, 2022. (Photo by seth herald / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Water-damaged items sit outside a house in Squabble Creek, Kentucky, near Buckhorn, following historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky, July 31, 2022. – Rescuers in Kentucky are taking the search effort door-to-door in worsening weather conditions as they brace for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the state’s east, the governor said on July 31, 2022. (Photo by Seth Herald / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Mud is seen inside a water-damaged car in the aftermath of historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky near Jackson, Kentucky on July 31, 2022. – Rescuers in Kentucky are taking the search effort door-to-door in worsening weather conditions as they brace for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the state’s east, the governor said on July 31, 2022. (Photo by Seth Herald / AFP) (Photo by SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
  • JACKSON, KY – AUGUST 06: Charlie Jones uses an extension cord to fix his well pump at his house in Breathitt County, Kentucky near Jackson, on August 6, 2022. Thousands of Eastern Kentucky residents have lost their homes ater devastating rain storms have flooded the area over the past week. The death toll stands at 37 people. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)