Earlier this week, Johnson County was impacted by severe flooding.
We're talking houses and cars being washed away. Two people are confirmed dead; several more are still missing. And countless folks have lost everything. The stories from back home are simply heartbreaking.
For those of y'all who aren't quite sure where Johnson County is, it's in the heart of eastern Kentucky. It's where Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle spent their formative years. Richard Thomas (John Boy from the Waltons) has roots there. For basketball fans, you may recognize the names of hometown favorites John Pelphrey, J.R. Vanhoose, and Todd Tackett. And, on a personal note, it's home to a whole lot of my family and friends.
It's going to take a long time to rebuild. This is an area where people aren't always food secure; it's hard to describe the ways that a catastrophe impacts an area that is already economically fragile. Just trust me when I say that it's going to be really hard.
Here are some ways you can help:
The quickest and easiest is to visit Kentucky Brewed Tees before 3:30 EDT today to order this t-shirt. 100% of their proceeds will go to benefit recovery efforts. They've already raised over $1200! (The owners of KBT are based in Johnson County, and I can personally vouch for the fact that your funds will be handled responsibly!)
The needs are immediate. Right now, Johnson County natives are looking for the most basic items. There will be a time when clothing and permanent shelter are needed, but these are the items that are currently needed. Johnson Central High School is serving as an immediate crisis center.
If you'd like to donate funds, you can contact the Johnson County Long-Term Recovery Group, which was formed a few years ago to address regrowth following the 2012 tornados that struck the same area. JCLTRG has an online donation page, and is conducting a radio donation drive on Paintsville's WSIP (98.9 FM) station this Saturday.
If you know someone who is impacted by the flooding:
Obviously, immediate shelter and provisions are the most important thing. However, we have seen some gracious offers of help (this will be updated as we hear more offers!)
- Duracell is bringing its Rapid Responder charging station to Johnson County. Follow them on Twitter for information about free batteries and mobile charging stations.
- If your photographs were damaged by floodwaters, Paula Goble Photography has offered to help restore them free of charge.
HerKentucky sends warm thoughts and deepest hopes for safety, peace, and resillance for our friends and family in Johnson County!