One year ago in July 2022, one of the most devastating natural disasters left Eastern Kentucky in ruins. Rain and flooding are common in the region, but during the night of July 27th and morning of July 28th, torrential rainfall quickly created crisis conditions never before witnessed by these communities. The rainfall that week had a statistically 1 in 1,000 chance of happening, meaning a 0.001% chance that this region would ever face a disaster of this magnitude. Rivers rose so quickly to record heights and entire homes were swept miles away in the middle of the night while most people were asleep. Some people were alerted with only minutes to evacuate, but unfortunately many could not escape or find safety. Over 40 people lost their lives from raging floodwaters and thousands of homes were destroyed. When the waters receded leaving countless people without housing, some displaced residents were able to find refuge with family or others in their community. In the following days and weeks, numerous volunteers and government agencies arrived in the region to support emergency response and relief efforts, even using helicopters to rescue people who had not been able to evacuate and were stranded in dangerous situations. Some of the most extraordinary efforts were from survivors who stepped up to help neighbors in the midst of their own loss and trauma. When FEMA and other groups moved on from Appalachia after July 2022 to respond to other areas of the country, the communities of Eastern KY were left with unprecedented devastation on an overwhelming scale. Still one year later, residents are waiting for the promise of real support to rebuild their communities, homes, jobs, and lives.
Despite the devastating nature of this disaster, Eastern Kentucky’s persistent resilience and strength has shined through. Residents and communities are working hard not just to rebuild what they had, but to build even stronger, thriving communities with new opportunities for the future. In times of darkness, Appalachia rallies together, and this spirit of determination and unity is what turns challenges into potential for improving homes and communities for generations to come. Fahe recognizes the incredible resilience of the region, and we continue to dedicate support on the ground and behind the scenes to rebuild Appalachia stronger than ever before. We are in this together, and we are stronger together, and that is why Appalachia is a beautiful place to call home.