EKY farmers show resilience one year after flood

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 4:35 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Not only were homes across the region destroyed during the deadly July 2022 floods in Eastern Kentucky, but for some, they also had to restart their farms from scratch, and the financial toll was immense.

Farmers across the region lost crops, animals, or had problems with their soil.

In July 2022, Bordes Slones’ farm was inundated with water from the creek backing up to his land.

“I’d almost swore off gardening anymore after that flood,” Slone said.

He says the field looked like a lake, but was grateful that it spared his home.

“It washed some guy’s barn over here over to my bottom,” Slone said. “And their chicken house landed next to my neighbor’s lot. It was pretty devastating.”

Slone said that he was the recipient of grants to repair his farm’s fence after it was washed away in the flood. He said the flood was hard, but knows that it’s important to keep moving forward and focus more on the positives in life.

“I had to buy new fencing, to keep the deer out,” Slone added. “I saw a big deer down there not long ago. If you don’t fence them out, they’ll eat your beans.”

Farmers throughout the region were left with no choice but to push back their profitable seasons.

“So I’m looking at probably September or October before I have calves that will be on the ground,” said Jordan Pigman from MC Farms. “Which is fine, still no loss from that standpoint. That was more so my impact.”

Pigman says that he felt the support from the community and local resources almost immediately

Knott County farmers say that agents from the University of Kentucky Extension Office have been working with them since the floodwaters receded to get the funding they need.

“And Chad Conway did a fantastic job at getting the farmers the things that they needed in order to continue or at least to keep their cattle and their animals in a safe state and fed,” Pigman added. “The extension office done a great job on reaching out and supporting the people in the area so, can’t thank them enough.”

“And we’re here on the ground and try to meet the immediate needs of folks and give them the answers here in the county that they need,” said Conway, who works with the UK Cooperative Extension Office, Whether it be in agriculture, youth development, or family consumer sciences.”

Pigman and Slone both say that they are glad the community was patient with them as they worked on getting their farms and products back to the way they were before the flood.

“But that was a sad thing, but, you know, things happen and we have to go on,” Slone said. “We can’t look back to the past, but it’s been a good year for farming.”