JACKSON, Ky. — Over a half a year since floods ravaged eastern Kentucky communities, some relief is finally coming to Kentuckians. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge announced millions of dollars in federal funds for eastern Kentucky communities.

What You Need To Know

  • Breathitt and other flood ravaged counties will split $298 million 

  • The funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 

  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge visited Jackson Wednesday and toured neighborhoods in need of repair 

  • 749 homes were completely  washed away and approximately 148 roads in the county were severely damaged

Breathitt and other hard hit eastern Kentucky counties in the unprecedented storms and flooding last year and 2021 will be able to use $298 million from the Department of Housing and Urban development to build houses and bring some residents back home after nearly a year.

Jackson resident Nancy Herald remembered some of the darkest days of her life Wednesday on a sunny March day.

“The flood of ‘22, water was four feet high in the house,” Herald said.

For 50 years, Herald lived in the same home off of Turner Drive in Jackson, but last summer the retired schoolteacher was forced out by Mother Nature.

“This was home — these were our trees, our fruit trees and our garden out there, and we did lose everything. It has been very, very difficult,” Herald said.

Herald was one of many in Breathitt County and eastern Kentucky whose home was destroyed in last year’s floods, which left most completely homeless. While her home is still standing, she said the inside is completely unliveable at this time. Others in the county saw their homes literally float away.

“We didn’t even have any place to lay our heads. My sister has a home in Hazard, so we were able to go there,” Herald said.

Wednesday afternoon, Herald shared her story with the HUD secretary, who also met with other residents of Breathitt and other affected counties earlier in the morning.

“I’m really especially pleased to come and to meet people and tell them face-to-face, we’re going to do the best we can to help you,” Fudge said.

With the funds, Jackson and other flood ravaged counties can assist their residents in rebuild and restoration efforts.

“I know when things like this happen, people do lose hope. They want to go away, they want to never come back, but there is no place like home,” Fudge said.

Fudge said while the $298 million is not nearly enough, she said it’s the best HUD could do and was privileged to bring hope to a hopeless community.

“Sometimes all people need, and I really believe we gave some hope today,” Fudge said.

Since the flood, Herald bought a new home and moved back to Jackson. She hopes others can do the same by utilizing the funds.

“People are moving away; they’re leaving Breathitt County because there’s no place to live and there’s nothing to keep them here and that’s unpleasant for me to because this is home,” Herald said.

Herald said she plans on fixing up her longtime home, but is unsure if she will ever live that close to the river again.

“My heart says why not? It’s home. But my head says you want to be safe, so it’s an emotional turbulence right now,” Herald said.

The $298 million will be allocated to 30 different counties, with the most affected being prioritized first. The state will determine the amount each county gets and will work with county officials on how residents can take advantage.

That $298 million is part of $3.3 billion worth of HUD grants to other communities and states affected by natural disasters.