On July 27, 2022, a flood swept through 14 counties in East Kentucky, killing 45 people and displacing thousands more. A year later the affected communities remain on a long road to recovery.

The area hit by the flood is one of the most rural regions in the country, and it’s also home to the main offices of our publisher and parent organization, the Center for Rural Strategies. In light of that, the Daily Yonder is committed to following the stories of the flood and its aftermath, to lift up acts of heroism, sacrifice, and resilience shown by neighbors in the region, and to preserve the lived experiences of the people of East Kentucky.

Photo by Malcolm Wilson.

East Kentucky Flood

The Film

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A documentary film by the Center for Rural Strategies, “East Kentucky Flood” tells the stories of those who endured the flood — including the life-saving actions of a firefighter in Whitesburg and the rebuilding of an independent grocery store in Isom — revealing not just what happened in July 2022, but what lies ahead for communities across East Kentucky.

The half-hour documentary premiered locally on Monday, January 27, 2022, on WYMT, the local CBS television affiliate in Hazard, Kentucky. It made its statewide premiere on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, on KET, Kentucky’s public television network and continues to air on KET throughout the month of February. 

The directors’ cut of the film now makes its national, digital debut here on the Daily Yonder. You can also stream the film on the Daily Yonder YouTube channel.

From the Film

More to Watch

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Last July’s historic flooding in East Kentucky was something no one could have foreseen, but could biases in weather forecasts and a lack of broadband have played a role in the inability to prepare? (via the Daily Yonder on YouTube).

Get a closer look at the days immediately following the flood from the perspective of the Isom IGA, a story featured in the “East Kentucky Flood” documentary. Photos by Malcolm Wilson.

Podcast and Radio

Everywhere Radio

Don’t miss these two podcast interviews about the flooding in East Kentucky, featured on Everywhere Radio, a podcast from the Rural Assembly. Like the Daily Yonder, the Rural Assembly is a program of the Center for Rural Strategies. Learn more at ruralassembly.org.

Everywhere Radio is available on popular podcast platforms, including Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts and more. Listen and subscribe today.

Filmmakers preserve stories from East Kentucky flood

In this episode of Everywhere Radio, host Whitney Kimball Coe talks with filmmakers Dee Davis, Mimi Pickering, and Joel Cohen about their new half-hour documentary, “East Kentucky Flood.” They share why they felt compelled to gather and share stories of those who witnessed the July 2022 flooding that devastated the region that Davis and Pickering call home.

From the frontlines of the 2022 Kentucky flood

Jessica Shelton and Katie Myers have been on the frontlines of responding to the flooding disaster in Eastern Kentucky in a variety of roles. We talked with them about their work and the region’s recovery. Jessica is the director of the Appalachian Media Institute at Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY. Katie is the economic transition reporter for the Ohio Valley ReSource and WMMT 88.7 FM also in Whitesburg.


In partnership with WEKU, the public radio station for central and eastern Kentucky, the Daily Yonder has contributed content to “RISE,” a special six-part series focused on the floods. The series is a special edition of Eastern Standard, WEKU’s weekly public affairs program. Each episode uplifts conversations focused on the realities of the present and prospects for the future in eastern Kentucky.

The series features reporting from Daily Yonder contributors Anya Slepyan, Caroline Carlson, Claire Carlson, Joel Cohen, and Xandr Brown.

Each episode of “RISE” airs locally on the radio via WEKU and is also available online via popular podcast platforms. You can also listen to the episodes below.

Episode 1

RISE is an Eastern Standard documentary series from WEKU about the July 2022 flash flood in Eastern Kentucky and its lingering aftermath.

Episode 2

Episode Two of RISE focuses on a pre-existing housing shortage made far worse by the flood; flood insurance issues; floodplain mapping; leadership exhaustion and stress; and the work of some of the key nonprofit organizations in the region. The episode is capped by a Chris Begley essay about the nature of mountain communities and how this event is forcing difficult change

Episode 3

Episode three of RISE investigates an increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as the moisture-heavy storm system that stalled above eastern Kentucky on the night of July 27, 2022 and intensified well into the morning of the July 28. The resulting flash flood claimed more than 40 lives and destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes — homes located outside of officially mapped floodplains. The episode explores the question: are these storms the calling card of climate change?

Episode 4

Episode Four of RISE explores the psychology of crisis and the mental health impacts of the July flood on survivors who lost everything, children, and whole communities destroyed by floodwaters. It also explores the stress and strain on caseworkers and first responders. Although there’s a strong cultural resistance to seeking professional mental health care, there’s also a strong culture of neighbors helping neighbors get by, kindness undeterred by crisis.

Episode 5

Episode Five of RISE focuses on Response, Recovery, Preparedness — the three phases that follow a natural disaster. Six months after a moisture-laden storm stalled above and relentlessly drenched southeast Kentucky the region remains somewhere among those stages. We review FEMA’s performance, learn of the breadth of the first response, and see why the flood elevates the push for internet connectivity to a difference between life and death.

Episode 6

Episode Six of RISE: Forty-five lives were lost. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed by the flash flood in July of 2022. While still adjusting to such heavy loss and amid much uncertainty, Eastern Kentuckians are giving careful consideration to the future. In addition to addressing the immediate need for housing on higher ground, that future includes preparing for the possibility of more frequent extreme weather. Is this a turning point? Or just another turn on the curvy road ahead? Residents demonstrate the most important key to a strong community is knowing how to show up for your neighbors.

Ongoing Coverage

As the Daily Yonder continues its reporting on flood recovery in East Kentucky, you can keep up with our latest stories here.

News and Reporting

Isom IGA: The Grocery Store That Love Rebuilt

Last summer’s historic flood nearly washed away the Isom, Kentucky, IGA, the only grocery store for miles around. After eight months of planning and rebuilding, Gwen Christon and her family are back in business, dispensing groceries, jobs, community gathering space, and what everyone describes as love.


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Commentary: (Distant) Neighbor Helping Neighbor

When La Grange, Texas, needed help recovering from the floods of Hurricane Harvey, national groups stepped up to lend local people a hand. Now those Texans are paying it forward by sending money to help the people of Eastern Kentucky.


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In the Community

In support of the communities of East Kentucky, the Center for Rural Strategies made grants to local groups, including the East Kentucky Mutual Aid Society, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Appalshop Archive, Hemphill Community Center and Revive Our Lower Letcher (via the Letcher County Culture Hub), as well as to support the establishment of a youth education and culture center in Fleming-Neon.

These grants were made possible by gifts from the Hearthland Foundation, Chorus Inc., Triangle Community Foundation, Peter Pearce, and other individuals.

How You Can Help

If you would like to play a part in the ongoing recovery in East Kentucky, we’ve collected below a list of community organizations that welcome donations from individuals looking to offer support in the region.

Photos by Malcolm Wilson.

Support Our Work

If you value our coverage of East Kentucky — or beyond, all across rural America — we hope you’ll consider making a donation to support our nonprofit newsroom.


Your contribution is appreciated.

The documentary film “East Kentucky Flood” and the reporting of the Daily Yonder are both productions of the Center for Rural Strategies, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Whitesburg, Kentucky.