Volunteers work to help flood victims in eastern Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It has been eight months since the deadly flash flooding in southeastern Kentucky, and communities are still working to recover.
The Breathitt County Long Term Recovery Team met Tuesday night as they continue their efforts to help neighbors recover.
It’s been eight months since thousands of lives were changed in southeastern Kentucky. Though flood waters changed communities overnight, the recovery is a much longer process.
“It becomes hard to be resilient at this point. When you’re hit with two floods in 15 months, you wanna say it’s hard, but at the same time, you look around and see how people have survived. They are truly survivors,” said Breathitt County Long Term Recovery Team Chair Jamie Mullins-Smith.
The Breathitt County Long Term Recovery Team is made up of several groups, including FEMA representatives, who address the several needs flood victims still have. They started after the March 2021 flood and only finished their work two weeks before last July’s flood.
“We try to focus on individuals who have not had their needs met by either insurance or FEMA or other wrap-around services,” Mullins-Smith said. We offer case management, construction help, as well as links to resources.
At a meeting Tuesday evening, the group discussed the upcoming one-year anniversary of the floods. A likely emotional time when Mullins-Smith is aware mental health will continue to be just as important as building new homes.
“About 12 to 18 months post-disaster, we typically see a huge rise in mental health disorders,” said Mullins-Smith. “Whether that be depression, anxiety, self-harm. Even rates of suicide can increase if we have not given them the proper wrap-around services.”
While work on hundreds of cases has been closed, and families are either back in their homes or in new ones, Debris removal and other clean up are still needed.
“Long-term recovery is what it is. We’re going to be here for the long haul,” Mullins-Smith said.
Volunteer groups from around the country are still coming in to help with rebuilding and other needs. Groups are scheduled as far out as the week of the one-year anniversary in July.
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