Kentucky flood victims feel forgotten, still need to rebuild

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HAZARD, Ky. (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.

There are still 262 families still living in the state-provided campers.

For more information on how to help the Kentucky flood victims, visit Kentucky.gov, Redcross.org or ARH.org.

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