HCTC president reflects on flood anniversary

Hazard Community and Technical College
Hazard Community and Technical College(WYMT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - School officials are reflecting on the devastating flood that ripped through Eastern Kentucky a year ago.

President and CEO of the Hazard Community and Technical College Dr. Jennifer Lindon said this flood hit the heart of their service area that left 51 students without a home.

“It was a matter of not knowing where to turn,” Lindon said. “We were trying to help everyone all at once and the magnitude of it was just so large.”

Lindon said they lost a lot of communication outlets and could not get in touch with people.

“In some cases we were literally sending people over to a neighboring counties just to make sure that that person was okay,” Lindon said.

Not only did many of the students and faculty members lose their homes but one student from Knott County tragically died in the flood.

HCTC was also working with Appalachian Regional Hospital to provide support and opened facilities up as shelters.

The flood also led to a drop in enrollment as students were working on getting their lives back together.

Lindon said enrollment on average is around 3,800 students. However, enrollment during the fall semester following the flood was one of the lowest enrollments for the college on record at 2,556.

Lindon said the decrease of enrollment was no surprise and officials welcomed students to take time off to take care of what was more important.

”We realized right away that maybe it was not the time for our students to be in college,” Lindon said. “We realized first they had to make sure they had food in their stomachs, and that they had clothes on their backs and that they had a roof over their head.”

Enrollment during the spring 2022 semester increased to approximately 2,800, which Lindon attributes to the resiliency of Appalachia.

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“I am so pleased with the amount of rebuilding that has taken place,” Lindon said. “It’s truly amazing. I believe that our Appalachian region is now more united and determined than ever before to make us a stronger Appalachia.”

The college was able to start a student emergency fund specifically for the flooding a week after the flood occurred. The fund was $120,000 and helped 172 students with checks of $500. The emergency fund also helped 17 faculty and staff members.