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    William and Cheyenne White - Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund

    When the flood hit eastern Kentucky in late July 2022, William and Cheyenne White were living in Emmalena, not far from Camp Nathaniel and about 10 miles west of Hindman. They had been living there, in a double-wide trailer overlooking Troublesome Creek, for four years. According to William, they had finally saved enough money to begin making the home their own.

    “I was in the process of putting flooring in,” said William. “I had just bought all the flooring. We had finished one room. I was starting another room when the flooding happened. It was like we were just getting it to where it felt like ours and then it all got taken from us.”

    IMG_1732-bgbOn the night of the flood, William was asleep, but Cheyenne was wide awake, watching the creek rise. When the water reached their backyard, she woke William. They grabbed their son Caleb and ran to their cars. By this time, the floodwater had reached the road, and they had to drive through it to get to higher ground.

    “The farthest we could go was just across the road from where we were living,” said William.

    One of their neighbors lived up on a hill nearby.

    “We just went up to their driveway and parked,” he said. “That was as far as we could get. The water covered the road in both directions. We just sat there and watched the water rise.”

    Before long, they also watched as their neighbors’ trailer was uprooted and swept away in the water.

    “When their trailer went down the creek,” he said, “it crashed into ours, and it caused ours to come up off its foundation and float away.”


    Helpless, they watched from their vehicles as their trailer was broken into two pieces. Later, they would find that half of it had disintegrated and its pieces lost in the water; the other half, the one with Caleb's room, was intact, stuck in the creek but unreachable. They were unable to recover any of their belongings.

    After the flood, the Whites were moved into an emergency trailer at Mine Made Adventure Park in Leburn, not far from Emmalena. When their second child, Maggie, was born two and a half months ago, they moved in with Cheyenne’s parents. On May 31, at dedication organized by Housing Development Alliance (HDA), the nonprofit builder, the Whites received the keys to their brand-new 3-bedroom, 2-bath house. When a representative from the governor's office handed Caleb the keys, he jumped for joy, screaming, "Thank you!" He had been saving money in a piggy bank for this moment, said William. He wanted to help pay for the house.

    Theirs is the first house to be built by HDA with support from the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, which was set up by Governor Beshear to assist families hit hardest by the 2022 flooding.

    Before the dedication, William and his mother talked about the emotional toll this year has taken.

    “We’ve just had to hold our breath this entire time,” said William. “Now that we’re moving in and it’s officially ours, we can just breathe out. We can start over. That’s the best way I know how to say it. It’s like starting over again from the beginning. But it’s the best way possible.”

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