Quick Takes

Donated site in Letcher County to house survivors of Eastern Kentucky floods

By: - July 5, 2023 3:08 pm

Gov. Andy Beshear announces plans for The Cottages at Thompson Branch in Marlowe. (Photo provided by governor’s office)

Local, state and federal groups are working together to secure housing for flood survivors in Letcher County. 

The fiscal court of the Eastern Kentucky county previously voted to transfer about four acres of property to develop a small housing site near Whitesburg. The land has space for 10 housing units. 

According to a recent news release from the governor’s office, the manufactured homes will be known as The Cottages at Thompson Branch. 

Last July, devastating flooding struck Eastern Kentucky, killing 44 and destroying hundreds of homes.

Through FEMA’s Direct Housing and Sales and Donations programs, eligible survivors can purchase the homes. Money from the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund will also help families “prepare for long-term occupancy by adding a foundation, exterior touches such as porches, shutters and landscaping that together add beauty and resilience to the structures,” the release said. 

“This is a first-of-its-kind partnership with local, state and federal groups coming together to support this new, safe, high-ground community and 10 families who lost their homes in the historic floods,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement. “The creative approach puts resources to work quickly and also creates a beautiful, resilient home.”

The Letcher County site is the latest in state efforts to rebuild homes in Eastern Kentucky. Beshear previously announced that 75 acres near the Knott-Perry county line would be used to establish a new community on “higher, stable ground.” Another site near Hazard was announced in January. 

Eastern Kentucky SAFE funds and a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to make infrastructure for The Cottages at Thompson Branch permanent. Once complete, FEMA will move the first structures to the area. Eligible families will be contacted with additional details. 

Letcher County Judge-Executive Terry Adams said in a statement that the community “will be a nice addition to our county when it’s finished.” He added that he hoped the area would be “the first of many high-ground housing projects of this caliber” and “a model project” for similar efforts. 

In his weekly news conference last Thursday, Beshear said the Commonwealth Sheltering Program was sheltering 83 households affected by the Eastern Kentucky floods. At the time, 299 households had been transitioned out of the program. 

Screenshot of a slide from Gov. Andy Beshear’s June 29, 2023 press conference.

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.