Letcher County school ‘building back better’ following July floods

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 5:30
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:28 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - In July 2022, flooding rocked much of Eastern Kentucky. The Jenkins community in Letcher County was one of many who saw the devastating effects.

Burdine Elementary School received heavy damage due to the floods, but officials say it could have been much worse.

“A little over 3 feet of water on the outside, but we were very fortunate in that our doors held,” said Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Damian Johnson. “It ran about four inches of water throughout the building.”

The floods completely destroyed Burdine’s preschool building and library and all of the flooring was removed. Outside, the school’s fencing and playgrounds were also destroyed and carried downstream.

Despite the damage, students returned to the classrooms in late September. Now, nearly eight months after the floods, the school is showing signs of progress.

“When we very first opened the building back up, we were opening up without a playground and without a fence. We’re still working on the playground end of it, but we have a fence,” said Burdine Elementary School Principal Amanda Anderson. “Progress is being made and we keep reminding ourselves ‘build back better’ and it’s going to happen.”

The school also received a fresh coat of interior paint, new windows, new doors, new furniture and much more, but there is much more work to be done.

Johnson added that the construction of Burdine Elementary’s new preschool building will start in the coming weeks with more renovations to the school’s library and flooring to happen over the summer.

“They’re still going to school on a concrete floor, but that full renovation will not take place until this summer once kids are out of the building,” said Johnson. “We’re also going to use this as an opportunity to completely renovate our library.”

Even though the school may look a bit different, Anderson says nothing has changed a bit.

“It looks different, but everything that goes on inside of it is still the same and we’re caring for kids and taking care of kids that are appreciative for what they do have in this building,” said Anderson.

Johnson added that the perseverance of Burdine Elementary’s staff and students is inspirational. Both Johnson and Anderson also say it is wonderful to see their former elementary school being renovated.