By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
If you were born in the Bluegrass State or been lucky enough to live here very long, you’re already aware that Kentuckians historically have been the object of scorn from political leaders, celebrities, the national news media, and a conglomeration of other folks in other states for a variety of reasons.
But it always seemed to me that we native-born Kentuckians have generally been positive about those from other parts of our great state. Sure, some country folks don’t like city dwellers and vice versa and there might still be some lingering bad feelings over the Civil War and, to our discredit, the civil rights movement.
But many of us senior citizens have taken pride in how we stepped up to help other Kentuckians in times of tragedy, ranging from killer floods in the Ohio River Valley to persistent drought that sent countless rolls and bales of hay from one part of the state to another as farmers helped other farmers keep their livestock alive.
Be warned, readers, that I’ve taken off my rose-colored glasses after reading about the relief funds donated to help West Kentucky tornado victims in December 2021 and East Kentucky flood victims in July 2022. Kentuckians and generous individuals from around the state and country answered the call to give.
In response to our governor’s eloquent pleas, gifts totaling more than $52 million came in to assist the West victims but only $13 million resulted from the call to help flood victims in the East. Can you imagine how much more could be accomplished with that other $39 million?
In safe housing alone, the unmet needs are staggering in East Kentucky. Research already has shown that about 3,000 homes need significant repair, or to be rebuilt, or relocated. And that number doesn’t include the schools, businesses, other public buildings that remain in the flood zones.
One civic leader said the region’s housing crisis before the flooding had become a housing catastrophe and would get worst over the next 10 years. To date, one non-profit group has raised almost $10 million, primarily for housing. Proposals are coming forth to rebuild entire communities on higher, flood-proof land.
Winter is upon us and we still have flood and tornado victims living in tents and storage sheds. For a state with a general fund balance in the billions, members of the General Assembly who go home without doing anything about such suffering should change the official name of the 2023 legislative session to the “session of shame”.
Contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.