More than two months ago, Beattyville, Kentucky, and surrounding Lee County where our partner Cumberland Mountain Outreach operates, suffered an historic, 100-year flood.
Dozens of businesses in the small town’s downtown area were forced to close, and hundreds of local residents were forced out of their homes.
The entire community was looking at massive costs for cleanup and repair costs, and as soon as we learned of the devastation in the already distressed region, within days, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we were able to provide more than $200,000 to accelerate the rebuilding of the businesses and residents who were in desperate need of emergency help.
Today, we are pleased to report that many of businesses and back up and running with their employees back at work, and their customers able to purchase the items and services they need without having to drive dozens of miles one way.
“About 50 percent of the Main Street businesses have reopened,” reported Teresa Mays, Director of the Downtown Business Alliance which received $100,000 in grant funding to distribute to business owners in need. “Some buildings are still months away from reopening. We should be able to start moving back into City Hall next week.”
Among those which have reopened are the Juniper Health Dental Clinic — the only dental clinic in town, and the Lee County Health Department, which lost ten vehicles to the flood.
Other businesses which are back in operation are a tattoo parlor which had to relocate to a new building on the town’s Main Street, and a check-cashing facility which was able to have its building renovated and restored.
And for locals waiting patiently for a haircut by their favorite barber, Teresa told us, Campbell’s Barber Shop is still “a work in progress” but is hopeful to be opening soon.
In addition, many of the residents whose homes were temporarily uninhabitable have been able to clean out the mud and muck and return.
Lee County Judge/Executive Chuck Caudill Jr. (The highest elected local official) told us that with the grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® to the county’s relief fund, homeowners were able to purchase construction materials, have their utilities reconnected, pay for labor for repairs and provide financial assistance for rent on new rentals.
And we were thrilled to learn recently from LEX18 that, “The small town of Beattyville in Lee County is getting outside help to address their long-standing flood problem.”
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who represents Eastern Kentucky, “is on the hunt for solutions,” the station reported.
“I have put together a community project financing in other words an earmark for the Corps of Engineers to conduct a study of Beattyville, Lee County flooding problems and see if there’s any possible way to prevent such from occurring again,” he told LEX18.
“We may be small, but we’re mighty and we’re important,” Teresa told the station. “So, we’re just as important as any large city. We have a lot to offer. We have, you know, businesses that have been on Main Street for 15 years, and guess what, they got flooding but they come back because they’re just that kind of people. So, I think we have, you know, why not us, why not invest in our small town.”
Don Begley, owner of Begley Auto Parts, another downtown business owner, considers himself lucky that while he lost more than 100 cars to flooding, telling WYMT that “We was fortunate to have concrete. We didn’t have any loss of wood or any materials. So, we was probably the luckiest in town, that got flood water.”
Begley, who received help Americans Helping Americans® to clean up his place of business, says the future for the town looks bright.
“I think Beattyville is on the move to grow back and get back and get back going.”
And, at Americans Helping Americans® we are grateful for and proud of, our supporters who played such a large role in helping the businesses and residents of Beattyville be able to do just that.