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    Housing Can't Wait - Sherry and George Mullins

    Sherry and George Mullins lost their home in the flash flooding that swept through eastern Kentucky in late-July 2022. At the time, they were living in the Lower River Caney community next door to Sherry’s aunt and about a hundred yards from what was a docile creek. Their home is no longer there. After the flood, in which the creek rose about 35 feet, it crumbled and fell into the water. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) removed what they could find and carted the pieces away. 

    After the flood, Sherry and George moved from one temporary accommodation to another, first at a church, then with their son in northern Kentucky, hundreds of miles from their home, friends, and local family, and finally in a rental in Breathitt County. The creek has pushed inland permanently, so they weren't able to move back to their property in Lower River Caney.

    In February 2023, though, about seven months after the disaster, Sherry and George moved into their new house, which was built by Housing Development Alliance (HDA) as part of "Housing Can’t Wait," a permanent-housing initiative for flood survivors created in the wake of the flooding by HDA, Fahe, HOMES Inc, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Kentucky Housing Corporation, and other organizations. The project has so far accounted for 60 new homes, which are either completed or under construction, and rehabilitation for over 175 flood-damaged homes. Sherry and George are the first flood survivors to move into a Housing Can't Wait home.

    George and Sherry Mullins outside their new home in Chavies

    At the event, Sherry vividly described the night of the flood.

    In mid-February 2023, the creek overflowed again. In some places, it looks more like a river now.  A week later, on February 24, 2023, representatives from all the Housing Can't Wait partner organizations as well as local and statewide supporters gathered to welcome Sherry and George to their new home.

    “We have a house on the mountainside now,” she said. “But I care about my people. My relatives, my family, my friends, you know. There’s just so many people worse off than we are."

    Sherry retired in June 2022. It was only a month later that she and George watched their home wash down the creek.

    “When you retire, and you watch everything you ever worked for just wash down that creek," she said, "you say, well, what am I gonna do? I didn’t know what we were going to do. We just took it one day at a time. That’s what we have been doing, and that’s what we will continue to do.”

    a celebration at Sherry and George Mullins' new house in Chavies, Kentucky

    Photos by Steve Morrow

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