PERRY COUNTY, Ky. — Many families that lost everything in July’s flooding in eastern Kentucky remain in temporary housing as they work to rebuild.
Wesley Godsey, who’s lived in Perry County all his life, wants those outside of eastern Kentucky to know how hard it is for many to find temporary housing that’s safe and secure.
Where the house he built himself stood for more than a decade. Now there’s only dirt. He’s disappointed in the federal response, saying he didn’t get any help from FEMA. “I figured when I lost everything, sort of just some kind of help,” he said of what he expected from FEMA. “I wouldn’t expect to get everything back, but I figured I’d get something to get started on.”
Godsey feels his home might have been salvageable. “I was gonna wash the floors down with bleach and tear out some of the drywall and replace the drywall,” he said. “I figured that’d been something, somewhere that I could stay until I saved up money or something or another, could get something better.”
However, he says FEMA told him if he bulldozed what was left of his home, he could have a travel trailer. But, once he did that, he says FEMA didn’t approve him for one. “They called it infeasible; said it was in the flood zone,” he explained.
For the first couple of months after the flooding when he and his wife had nowhere to live, he says they stayed in their car with their three dogs. As they waited to find out if they’d get any help from FEMA, they moved into a tent given to them by the fire department.
Godsey’s sister eventually provided a travel trailer for him and his wife to stay in for the winter. Recently, he got some more good news. His community plans to work to build a one-room house for him and his wife. In the meantime, however, he says, “It’s not easy. I don’t know what people are gonna do. There are a lot of people in the same shape I am and worse, and I just don’t know what they gonna do.”
For now, Godsey says he’s just focusing on staying warm and looking ahead to better days.
If you would like to contribute to families recovering from flood damage, Gov. Andy Beshear has established the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund where you can make a donation.