Eastern Kentucky Flood Disaster

Recovering from the Historic 2022 Eastern Kentucky Flood

Around 2 a.m. on July 28, 2022, historic flash flooding devastated Eastern Kentucky. Small streams in mountain hollows (“hollers”) became mighty rivers, wiping out hundreds of homes, claimed dozens of lives, and left our community scrambling to help those most in need. Three of the four counties we serve – Breathitt, Knott, and Perry – were three of the four counties hardest hit (the other was nearby Letcher). In these counties, there was a housing crisis before the flood, and now, the housing need is staggering. As we approach 2 years after the flood, many people believe that flood survivors in Eastern Kentucky have been made whole, have gotten back on their feet, and that no one needs help any longer. This is not true. Hundreds of people are still displaced, are in need of proper housing, and need to know they’ve not been forgotten.

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Images courtesy of Travis Bowling

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In the 4 counties we serve (Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry):

Data from the Ohio River Valley Institute

Total Flood-Affected Homes
Homes Damaged
Homes Destroyed
People Directly Impacted
  • 44% of those whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the flood are children or seniors.
  • 60% of households with damaged homes have annual incomes of less than $30,000.
  • 29% of households with damaged homes have occupants age 65 or older, with fixed incomes.
  • 61% of homes damaged were non-mobile housing units (i.e., homes, townhouses, apartments, etc.); 39% were mobile homes.
  • 95% of those affected did not have flood insurance.
  • Kentucky homeowners pay, on average, $1,174 per year for flood insurance policies, making them unaffordable for many low-income homeowners.

Total Cost to Rebuild Across East Kentucky: $1.4 Billion
Total Cost to Rebuild in the Counties We Serve: $529 Million

($529 Million is the cost to rebuild in just the 4 counties we serve. 13 total counties were impacted by the flood in Eastern Kentucky.) To build a new home in the same location costs an estimated $150,000. The cost to build a new home in a new location is $185,000 ($150,000 + $35,000 for land). To repair or rehabilitate a home that sustained major damage in the flood, the cost is estimated at $70,000.


According to the Ohio River Valley Institute, there is a gap of about $600 Million between the funding received to rebuild in East Kentucky and the total cost to rebuild. The amount of funding the region as a whole has received from federal, state, and other philanthropic sources is about $800 Million. With the total price tag for rebuilding being $1.4 Billion, disaster recovery in Appalachian East Kentucky remains significantly underfunded. Read the full report by Eric Dixon below. 

Read the Report

Flood Recovery Efforts


for Eastern Kentucky Flood Survivors

As of April 30, 2024 (updated at the end of each month)
Home Rehabs Completed
New Homes Completed
Rehabs Under Construction
Homes Under Construction

11 new homes are currently pending as well as 58 home rehabs. HDA is currently working with over 200 flood-surviving households who have requested new home construction and home repairs!

Our Plan

Higher Ground: Guiding Principles for a Lasting Recovery

Our community has suffered two major floods within 18 months – the first in the spring of 2021 and the second in the summer of 2022. Many families had just recovered from the previous flood when their home was flooded again. While the flood of July 2022 has been declared a “thousand-year flood,” that does not mean it won’t happen again for a thousand years. In fact, our region has seen numerous “unprecedented” rain events in recent years. It is clear that simply repairing and rebuilding homes where they were is a short-sighted, inadequate, and dangerous solution.

Thankfully, the state of Kentucky agrees and has developed its High Ground Housing Developments, which is being spearheaded by the Beshear Administration and involves building new homes high above the region’s creeks and rivers, getting folks out of danger. HDA and other nonprofit builders will participate in the construction of these homes. The High Ground sites are listed below.

High Ground Housing Development Sites

Note that HDA can only build on High Ground sites within its service area (Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry counties). 

Name County Number of Homes HDA Building Homes?
Olive Branch
Chestnut Ridge
Cottages at Thompson Branch
New Hope Estates
Grand View

*Table reproduced from a similar table by the Ohio River Valley Institute

If we, as a community, can get recovery right, then our recovery efforts will be a huge step forward in our efforts to overcome persistent poverty and the other socioeconomic challenges we face. However, if we as a community get recovery wrong, it will only serve to reinforce and accelerate many of the long-term challenges we face. We offer the following principles for a recovery that moves us forward: 

We know that people of color, female-headed households, low-income households, and other marginalized communities are often most vulnerable to natural disasters due to past housing and lending discrimination and household wealth gaps. We also know that historically, these communities receive less assistance following natural disasters. We will strive to make our recovery just and equitable.

People rush to repair and rebuild housing in flood prone areas because there are no other options they can afford. Even people who would prefer to move away from potential floods will stay put simply because they have no other choice. Therefore, we will strive to create enough new housing in areas safe from flooding such that every person who wishes to move to higher ground can do so.

Our region is comprised of many small communities and “hollers”; many families raised on Troublesome Creek want to stay on Troublesome Creek and many families raised in Sassafras want to stay in Sassafras. Furthermore, we know that Appalachian homesteads have room for gardens, workshops, fruit trees, and outbuildings. Rebuilding efforts need to allow for and support these cultural preferences.

Kentucky has existing floodplain regulations designed to protect people and personal property. These regulations can make it more difficult to re-house displaced people by limiting which houses can be repaired and where houses can be built/rebuilt. Our recovery efforts will comply with these regulations even when local enforcement is not aggressive.

The majority of the homes impacted by this flood were not in the floodplain (100 or 500-year). When seeking to repair, replace, or rebuild flooded homes not in the floodplain, we will use science, commonsense, and other tools available to assess the likelihood the home will flood again. If a home appears likely to flood again, we will encourage the owners to move to higher ground either on their property or elsewhere.

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, finding warm, safe, and dry shelter for impacted families is absolutely critical. However, high quality housing can provide much more than shelter. High quality homes can provide an opportunity for low and moderate-income families to build wealth. Quality housing will be energy efficient, saving families hundreds of dollars per year in utility costs. Well-designed homes can provide adequate space for modern lifestyles including working from home and can allow aging-in-place. Quality housing will provide communities with a stronger tax base. Our long-term solutions must not focus merely on shelter but must provide quality housing.  

Housing is more than shelter.
Flood survivor home built by HDA.

The scope and scale of the need is such that no single solution will be sufficient for recovery. Therefore, we need a multipronged approach to recovery that includes:

  • Temporary Housing is Key

    One reason families rush to repair/rebuild where they are is because they have nowhere else to go. Many lack the resources to secure temporary housing. Even people with resources struggle to find temporary housing in our housing market. We know that moving people out of the floodplain and flood prone locations will take longer than simply repairing, replacing, or rebuilding in the same place. Therefore, having sufficient temporary housing is crucial. We cannot expect people to live in tents while we develop subdivisions and build new homes. Given the expected length of recovery efforts (five years or longer), some intermediate solutions are needed to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent solutions.

  • Develop Subdivisions on Higher Ground

    Given the number of families needing to relocate, subdivisions will be required to meet the need. We know from experience that many folks will happily relocate to subdivisions such as Gurney’s Bend, the development near the Wendell Ford Airport, and the development near Hickory Hill Recovery Center. When developing subdivisions, it is important to ensure that employment, education, shopping, recreation, and other amenities are available close by.

  • Smaller Place-Based Developments

    While larger subdivisions on higher ground will be part of the solution, we know that many families will want to stay in their communities where land is not available for large subdivisions. In these communities, we will build homes in smaller developments and on scattered sites that are not in the floodplain.

  • When Possible, Build on Higher Ground

    We know that many people have a strong tie to their land and will not move regardless of other opportunities. For families that wish to remain on property that flooded, we will seek to rebuild on higher ground on that same property. This will likely involve additional expenses including grading, moving/extending driveways, and relocating utilities.

  • Create Stronger, More Resilient Housing

    When floodplain regulations and common sense allow houses to be repaired, replaced, or rebuilt along creeks and rivers, we will strive to make these homes stronger and more flood resistant. This could include elevating structures, strengthening foundations and connections to foundations, installing flood resistant anchors on mobile homes, using additional flood resistant materials, and more. This requires understanding the different forces associated with flash flooding versus river flooding. Designs which easily withstand rising water might be inadequate to withstand the rushing water of a flash flood.

  • Rental Housing

    Approximately 30% of the households impacted by the floods were living in rental housing. Therefore, recovery must include developing a significant amount of rental housing. Like homeownership units, we will strive to develop larger rental projects as well as smaller rental projects located in flood-impacted communities.

Resources for Flood Survivors

Housing is the #1 need of flood survivors. As the only affordable housing developer in the hard-hit counties of Breathitt, Knott, and Perry, we may be able to offer assistance through our helpful programs and services. If your home was destroyed or majorly damaged by flooding in July 2022, you may be able to get a new home, an affordable rental, or home repairs through one of our programs. Please contact us to determine what options may be available to you!

Helpful Links & Materials

Local Disaster Recovery Groups

Help and resources are available to you through Flood Relief & Recovery Groups active in each county. Each group conducts regular meetings that are open to the public. Below we have listed contact information for each of these groups. 

Breathitt County Long-Term Recovery

Ph:  606-568-6497

Facebook Page


Knott County Rising
Perry County Disaster Recovery Group

HDA Flood Stories & More

Our community has faced an unprecedented disaster, but do you know the secret to our resiliency? We’ve survived because we have each other.

HDA Funders & Supporters

Disaster recovery is expensive. There isn’t enough available funding to meet the needs of flood survivors in our area. As a nonprofit – 501 (c) (3) – affordable housing developer, we rely on the generosity of our funders, individual donors, partners, and community supporters to help make this work possible. Thank you for helping our community!

AEP Foundation & Kentucky Power
American Red Cross (Kentucky)
Appalachians for Appalachia
Berea College Appalachian Fund
Blue Grass Community Foundation
Blue Ridge Insurance Group
Bowman Memorial United Methodist Church 
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Church of the Holy Spirit
Church of Reconciliation
City of Hazard
Coalition for Home Repair
Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund
Eastman Foundation
Endeavor Charitable Fund
Enterprise Community Partners
Episcopal Diocese of Lexington (KY)
First United Methodist Church – Champaign, IL
Flat Rock Holiness Church
Flour Creek Christian Church
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky & Perry County Community Foundation
Franciscan Friars
Grace Immanuel United Church of Christ
Greenwood United Methodist Church
Hamilton County Council of PTAs
Hindman Methodist Church
Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Home Lumber Company
Ink Blot Shop LLC
Janet Smith, Inc. – Perry Farm Bureau Insurance
James Graham Brown Foundation
Joshua House Fund
Kelsey Speaks – “Americana for America” Benefit Concert
Kentucky Colonels Foundation
Kentucky Housing Corporation
Kentucky River Properties
Kentucky Sports Radio & Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
KYANA Charities, Inc. & Street Rod Swap Meet (Louisville, KY)
Louisville Water Company
Marion County Cattlemen’s Association
Michelle Budzek & Gregory T. Brodrick (in honor of Gerry Roll)
Mountain View Independent Methodist Church
Paris Stockyard
Parkway Christian Fellowship
People’s Self-Help Housing
Perry County (KY) Fiscal Court
Perry Distributors, Inc.
Photography by Larry Witt
Save A Lot Foundation
Scottsville Allen Faith Coalition
Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries
Temple University Honors Program
The Benevity Community Impact Fund
The Marist Brothers Youth Program
The Mulhollem Cravens Foundation
The Welcome Class – FBC Cumming, GA
The Whitaker Foundation
Walmart Foundation
Washington County Livestock Center
WellCare Health Plans of Kentucky
William T. Foley Foundation (in memory of Mary Foley Carew)

& All Our Donors

Questions? Contact Us.

For more information on the Housing Development Alliance’s flood recovery efforts, contact our Communications & Development Department.

Mindy Miller, Director of Development & Communications
Office Phone: 606-436-0497

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