WHITESBURG, Ky. — Letcher County Public Schools are finally welcoming students into the new school year, after being delayed for over a month due flood damage.

What You Need To Know

  • Students and staff members will have their first day of school on Wednesday 

  • The school year has been delayed over a month 

  • West Whitesburg Elementary School was destroyed in the flood 

  • The Elementary School is now inside the high school for this school year 

One of the most exciting days of the year for Bridgett Craft is the first day of school.

“Just a little reminder for them to look at and thank you now. Miss Bridget loves me and she’ll be my friend. She’ll be there,” Craft said.

This year, it’s been delayed for over a month. 

“They’re just so ready to be back because they’ve been through a lot. They just can’t wait,” Craft said.

Craft has been teaching in Letcher County for the past 8 years, but this school year is different. 

When severe flooding came through Eastern Kentucky in late July, West Whitesburg Elementary School was one of the many places completely destroyed. 

“I tell my kids, ‘I’m with you more than I am with my own family. And so I’m gonna treat you just like that,’” Craft said.

The Elementary School is now temporarily located inside Letcher County High School, and over the last two weeks, Craft has made her room feel like home. 

“I purchased all this before [the flooding], but it was lost. They’ve supported us through everything, our parents, people in the communities and the department stores, different places, they’ve reached out from all over, and they’ve helped make this possible for kids,” Craft said.

High School Principal Scottie Billiter says when the flood first came through, the High School quickly became a safe place for those in need.

“I think we all ran just response mode, and maybe into survival mode and just helping people and meeting the most basic needs in our community and that was what was most important,” Billiter said.

Now that those immediate needs are being met, Billiter said the school is now once again ready for the students. A chance, Craft says, that will give these students some normalcy. 

“It’s not our building, but it is for now. It’s our temporary home and we’re gonna make it that for our kids because it’s gonna be it’s gonna be the best year yet,” Craft said.

Craft and Billiter say they know there will be challenges along the way, but are looking forward to working through those obstacles from inside the classroom. 

The School District says there are plans to rebuild the Elementary School that was destroyed, with hopes of having a new school within the next two years.