Gov. Beshear Announces Sixth and Seventh High-Ground Communities for Flood Survivors in Eastern Kentucky

Governor says 115 homes will be built in Letcher County ‘Grand View’ neighborhood; 12 homes will be built in Floyd County

JENKINS / WAYLAND, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2023) – As part of ongoing efforts to help Eastern Kentucky rebuild after devastating floods in 2022, Gov. Andy Beshear traveled to Letcher and Floyd counties today to announce two new high-ground communities for flood-impacted Kentuckians. They will serve a total of 127 families.

“We made a promise to Eastern Kentucky that we would be here until every life and structure is rebuilt,” said Gov. Beshear. “Every Kentuckian deserves that safe place where they can get a fresh start and make new memories with their kids and grandkids. That’s exactly why we’re here to celebrate two new neighborhoods in Letcher and Floyd counties, which at least 127 families will soon get to call home.”

The Governor also presented $9 million for seven nonprofit housing agencies in Eastern Kentucky from the first round of awards from the Rural Housing Trust Fund, which were announced Oct. 23.

Today’s announcements mark the sixth and seventh high-ground building sites announced by Gov. Beshear. To see a map of all sites, as well as individual homes funded by the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, click here. Housing remains the No. 1 need in the area and the focus of recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky.

‘Grand View’ Community Will Add 115 Homes in Letcher County
In Letcher County, Gov. Beshear announced the sixth high-ground neighborhood site for flood-impacted families. The property is located off U.S. Highway 23, near downtown Jenkins and close to a popular natural attraction known as Raven Rock. For a rendering of the Grand View community, click here.

Initial plans for the 92-acre site include approximately 115 homes, partially funded by the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, in partnership with nonprofit builders FAHE Housing and HOMES Inc. Additional land is available for future developments, playground and park space and walking trails that could eventually connect the community to downtown Jenkins.

The land was donated by the Johnson family to assist flood survivors. They named the new community Grand View.

“What an honor and a proud moment for the Johnson brothers – Gregory, Garnie and George – to be able to contribute to Eastern Kentucky and Letcher County by donating this beautiful piece of land,” said Gregory Johnson. “We are thrilled that it will benefit the entire community and look forward to seeing the stability of safe housing provide hope and prosperity for the people of Jenkins.”

The project is a complement to Imagine Letcher, a comprehensive economic development plan for Letcher County.

“The terrible flooding was a strong reminder of the importance of critical strategic investments. While this project and these homes will directly benefit our families who were impacted by the storms, this is just the beginning of building a resilient and sustainable future,” said Jenkins Mayor Todd DePriest.

Letcher County Judge/Executive Terry Adams reiterated that the project has far-reaching benefits, beyond simply the homes it will provide: “Plans to diversify economic development opportunities and strengthen tourism rely on improved infrastructure and reliable housing. Today’s announcement is a building block for the future of Letcher County.”

New Community in Floyd County Will Add 12 Homes for Flood-Impacted Families
In Floyd County, Gov. Beshear announced the seventh high-ground community at a site previously owned by the Wayland Volunteer Fire Department. The 4-acre site is located on Kentucky Highway 1086, near Main Street, in Wayland. The site is build-ready with infrastructure in place. It is anticipated that up to a dozen homes can be built on the land, and building can start immediately.

To benefit their community, the Fire Department voted to sell the land for housing and will search for another site for their training facility.

In partnership with the Appalachian Service Project, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund will provide up to $100,000 per home for building and land costs. Appalachia Service Project is a nonprofit committed to building and repairing homes for low-income families.

“There are many families who want to stay in Floyd County but are in need of a safe, affordable home,” said Walter Crouch, president and CEO of Appalachia Service Project. “We always work to keep impacted families on their own property, wherever it’s safe and feasible, to limit further needs or displacements, but we’re also very grateful for our partners who’ve helped us locate high-ground, build-ready properties, like this one in Wayland, where we can keep families in the community they love – and we have local folks ready to move in as soon as these new homes are completed.”

“Floyd County is a special place with strong and resilient families who have lived here for decades and do not want to move out of the county,” said Judge/Executive Robbie Williams. “Today’s announcement is a bit of hope that families can keep their roots in Eastern Kentucky.”

New Hope Neighborhood Investment
Gov. Beshear announced an additional $8 million to help Floyd County build 33 new homes and rehabilitate one vacant home in the New Hope neighborhood in Prestonsburg. The homes will be for Kentuckians directly affected by the 2021 and 2022 flood events that impacted Floyd County.

These funds are in addition to the $2 million Gov. Beshear announced to acquire the land for the homes. The funds come from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.

Commitment to Building on High Ground
Each high-ground community will provide safe, affordable housing for flood survivors outside of the flood plain. Many include new infrastructure projects that support the communities or upgrades to roads and utilities in the area.

Funds from the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief funds will partially fund homes in new high-ground communities. To date, over $13.2 million dollars has been raised from the generous donations of over 41,500 individuals and organizations from all over the world. To learn more about the fund or contribute, click here. These communities are also being funded, in part, by $300 million in federal CDBG-DR funds.

In September, Gov. Beshear provided details on previously announced high-ground communities, including The Cottages at Thompson Branch in Letcher County, Skyview in Perry County, Chestnut Ridge in Knott County, Olive Branch in Knott County and New Hope Estates in Floyd County.

The state is not allowed under federal law to use CDBG-DR funds, or other funding sources until an environmental review of the sites is completed and approved by the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. Environmental assessments on all sites have been initiated and are in various stages of completion.

Key updates include:

  • The Cottages at Thompson Branch property has completed its environmental assessment; electric poles and lines and water and sewer lines are currently being installed.
  • Skyview has completed its environmental assessment and a bridge has been completed to accommodate site construction.
  • At Chestnut Ridge, designs for roadwork and utility placement are underway.
  • At Olive Branch, infrastructure work is ongoing, including upgrading a water treatment facility that will improve service to additional parts of the county.

Working to address immediate housing needs, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund continues to partially fund individual homes also being built on high ground. To date, the fund has provided over $725,000 for 10 homes, including one each in Breathitt, Knott, Perry and Owsley counties and six homes in Letcher County. These homes are being built in partnership with nonprofit building partners, including HOMES Inc, Housing Development Alliance and Partnership Housing.