‘That’s the baby that came from the flood’: EKY family reflects on experience with historic flood

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 2:30 PM EST
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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - For the Dunn family of Breathitt County, July 27, 2022 started as a regular day, but as July 28 came, their lives would be forever changed.

“We just never expected that it would flood here because I’ve lived here my entire life,” said Breathitt County native Chelsey Dunn. “I literally stayed late at work helping get all of our little clients from our homeless shelter to safety, and once I pulled up here, it was already too late to pull to my driveway.”

That is when Dunn rushed inside her home to save her dog and then go across the street to her parents’ home to help them; all while Dunn was eight-and-a-half months pregnant.

“I was mainly trying to save my parents’ stuff, I was telling them like, ‘What do you want?’ Even at that point I really didn’t think it would get into our home,” she said.

Once Chelsey’s husband Dexter got home, he tried to save what he could in their house then got in a kayak and started saving their neighbors.

“Fast forward, by the time we get some dogs out of here and some elderly ladies off the back street, I stopped back here during nightfall and its knee-high in here,” said Dexter Dunn.

The inside of the Dunn’s home was completely ravaged by flood water. The family had lost nearly everything they had.

“I had just had my baby shower and we had lost all of the diapers and everything. [Dexter] did save the crib, though,” said Chelsey Dunn.

Dunn knew she wanted to eventually bring their new baby home to this house, and thanks to community support and organizations like Aspire Appalachia, the couple was able to do that.

“You live in the mountains and that’s just what these people do. I wasn’t surprised about it. We’re grateful,” Dexter said.

“Yeah, it just made a bad situation so much better,” said Chelsey.

The pair also said it was a volunteer that suggested changing the baby’s name to reflect everything the family had overcome, and that’s how the name ‘River Dunn’ came to be.

“He was definitely that sunshine after the storm, right?” said Dexter.

“And not just ours, but for our whole little community,” Chelsey added.

“I think everybody knows this boy right here. Like, ‘River? Yep. That’s our little sunshine. That’s the baby that come from the flood.’” Dexter said.

Dexter and Chelsey Dunn said, although there is still work to be done on their house, they feel grateful for their friends, family and the various volunteers that helped them return home.