United States

Kentucky secures land for homes near flood-ravaged Hazard

(The Center Square) – State officials have secured a second site in Eastern Kentucky to help the region rebuild from the disastrous flooding that struck the area six months ago.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced a 50-acre site has been obtained near the city of Hazard in Perry County. The high-ground land is near a regional hospital, schools and shopping centers.

A release from the governor’s office said houses built there will be paid for in part by the $13.1 million raised through the state’s Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund in conjunction with local nonprofit builders.

The land is expected to accommodate about 150 homes, and additional acreage will become available for future developments.

“This land is located near the heart of Hazard and can be a real boost to the community,” said Paul Ison, whose family provided the land. “There’s really no better use for such a great piece of land than to improve housing. Better and more housing attracts better jobs and a better future.”

Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander said in a statement that the county faced a housing crisis before last July. It became “catastrophic” after the floods.

“To be at this point so quickly is a great day for the community,” he said.

Last month, Beshear announced the state received a 75-acre plot in Knott County and plans for a mixed-use development there could swell to 300 acres.

Beshear said the state continues to seek land in Breathitt, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties. Those four were among the hardest hit areas in the region and accounted for three-quarters of the homes destroyed.

“Rebuilding on high ground is a chance to lift up entire communities with upgraded infrastructure and safe, affordable, energy-efficient homes,” Gov. Beshear said. “But our work in Eastern Kentucky is not done until there is prosperity in the entire region.”

A dozen counties in Eastern Kentucky were declared disaster areas after torrential storms produced sweeping floods across the region. The flooding caused more than 40 deaths in the region.

According to NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, the July 26-28 flooding in Eastern Kentucky and parts of Missouri caused at least $1 billion in damages. It was one of 18 such weather or climate emergencies in the U.S. last year that produced such losses.

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