Gov. Beshear, FEMA Announce 10 Homes for Flood-Impacted Families at New High-Ground Community in Letcher County

Community to be known as The Cottages at Thompson Branch

(WHITESBURG, KY) June 30, 2023 – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to bring additional housing to flood survivors in Letcher County, one of the most heavily impacted counties from the 2022 floods.

The four-acre tract of land near Whitesburg was donated by the Letcher County Fiscal Court and will be known as The Cottages at Thompson Branch.

“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,” said Gov. Beshear. “The creative approach puts resources to work quickly and also creates a beautiful, resilient home.”

Under FEMA’s Direct Housing and Sales and Donations programs, 10 manufactured homes will be available to eligible survivors for purchase. After that, money from the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund will help the 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.

An Appalachian Regional Commission grant and Eastern Kentucky SAFE funds will be used to make the infrastructure permanent. When the infrastructure is completed, FEMA will start moving the first structures into the area and families who are eligible will be contacted with additional program details.

“The commonwealth and FEMA are collaborating on a housing option that will allow survivors of the devastating floods in Eastern Kentucky the chance to move into a new manufactured home on land outside of a high-risk flood zone,” said FEMA Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Recovery Directorate within the Office of Response and Recovery Colt Hagmaier. “These individuals will be able to create a new life on higher ground so whenever it rains, they can rest easy knowing they are in a safe, secure location. Imagine what a difference that can make for a flood survivor.”

“It will be a nice addition to our county when it’s finished,” said Letcher County Judge/Executive Terry Adams. “I hope this is the first of many high-ground housing projects of this caliber and I look for it to be a model project for future endeavors of this kind.”

“Our goal is to design and build desirable neighborhoods that honor the history and spirit of Eastern Kentucky,” said Project Manager Mark Arnold with Bell Engineering. “We want the new communities to be places where families want to put down new roots and rebuild their lives.”

The Energy and Environment Cabinet's Division of Forestry also donated a Kentucky native Black Gum tree as a symbol of regrowth for the area. The sapling will be planted at the edge of the green space where the community area is proposed.

Rebuilding on High-Ground
Today’s announcement marks the third high-ground building site the Governor has announced. Previously, Gov. Beshear announced building sites in Knott and Perry counties.

On May 11, the state announced that H.A. Spalding and Bell Engineering had been hired as design consultants and project managers for all the building projects. Infrastructure work continues at both sites.

Each of these communities is an opportunity to provide safe, affordable housing, outside of the flood plain, including much-needed infrastructure and community buildings that can uplift the entire area.

Housing remains the No. 1 need in the area and the focus of recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky.

“We made a promise to Eastern Kentucky that we would be here until every life and structure is rebuilt,” said Gov. Beshear. “The key to our vision is getting residents into new, safe homes. That’s going to take a variety of efforts, both from the state government, private companies and nonprofits.”

Team Kentucky Flood Relief Fund
To date, more than $13.2 million dollars has been raised from the generous donations of over 41,500 individuals and organizations from all over the world.

The fund has paid the funeral expenses of the 44 lives lost. It has provided direct financial assistance to survivors identified by FEMA. Over $1.175 million is committed to building new homes and home repair with nonprofit partners: Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Housing Development Alliance and Homes Inc. These partners have nine homes either completed or under construction.

Remaining Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief funds will be used to build new homes on land acquired for high-ground communities and other sites for flood survivors.

The fund continues to accept much-needed donations. To donate, visit


Click here to see a rendering of The Cottages at Thompson Branch, and click here for images from the event.