HDA continuing to rebuild 14 months after flood

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Ky. (WYMT) - The Housing Development Alliance (HDA) was created to build and rehab homes for low-income families.

However, for the last 14 months, the organization has been instrumental in flood recovery.

So far, the staff has rehabbed 40 homes, completed 12 builds and 12 more are in construction. One being the Combs family home that the family and HDA broke ground on a few months ago.

During the groundbreaking, Wilma Combs, the mom of five, shared a bit of what their life has been like since the flood.

“It’s been rocky. It has been a lot of displacement. We’ve been all over the place. We have been in Stanton. We have been in Jackson. We have been in Hardshell. We have been in Powell County,” Combs explained.

Just a couple of months later, the HDA staff has already made great progress on the home. Lead Carpenter Steven Hurt said helping people like the Combs family is what it is all about.

“I guess the most important thing is that we’re all shooting for is to get these people back into a home. You know, they lost everything that they had, and our goal is to do as much as we can as quick as we can to help those people out,” Hurt said.

Quick is exactly what they are doing. The building staff said they went from foundation to looking like a home in the matter of one week.

HDA Director of Development and Communication Mindy Miller said their carpenters are a blessing.

“They realize how important it is that that family gets into a home. You know this family in particular they have five kids. So, you can imagine what it is like moving from place to place not knowing where you are going to be next with that many children. Also, we have at least one member of our crew who is a flood survivor herself,” said Miller.

Sarah Wetmore is a framing carpenter for HDA and said she understands the situation because she was greatly affected by the flood herself. That is why she wants to help folks like the Combs family.

“I know what they lost, and I know how important it is to have other people to pitch in and help them when they don’t have anything. You know they are starting all over most of them,” Wetmore said.

Miller added the kids picked out their bedrooms at the end of September, and HDA staff is aiming to finish the home around Christmas.

They are expected to also begin construction on Chestnut Ridge in Knott County at the beginning of 2024.