Flooding in Eastern Kentucky Devastates a Community and Hindman Settlement School

Photo by Melissa Helton

If you’re wondering why these books are muddied and swimming in water, it’s because this is just a small example of the destruction force that hit Eastern Kentucky a few weeks ago. At the end of July 2022, incredibly destructive thunderstorms and rain and deadly flash flooding swept through Kentucky. The Hindman Settlement School was participating in its Forty-fifth annual workshop with writers (faculty and adult students) in attendance from all over the country. Students and faculty had to be quickly evacuated. One of the evacuees—poet, activist, and author of Drowned Town Jayne Moore Waldrop—was teaching at the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and took the photos shown below of the school and town of Hindman, Kentucky.

Hindman School

I reviewed Waldrop’s book, Drowned Town, and interviewed her last spring (for full review and interview visit SouthernRead). Having lived near a town in Southeast Missouri that rested on the Mississippi River, I was very familiar with the lethal and devastating effect flash flooding could have on a community. In my teenaged years, my family moved to Woodstock, Georgia, near Allatoona Lake—another project of the New Deal Program and also a drowned town. So I was more than intrigued by Waldrop’s book.

 Drowned Town—comprised of interlinked short stories—offers an insight into characters who lost family farms, homes, businesses, as well as characters who gained employment and grew up enjoying the beauty of Land Between the Lakes and is an excellent foray into a lost history. The narrative spans multiple generations set in a fictional town impacted by the New Deal programs that swept the country during the Depression. Its a wonderful tribute to underwater towns. Drowned Town is a work of fiction; however, the stories reflect the voices and people from the past to the present. But what Waldrop and the others at the Hindman Settlement School faced this past summer was far from fictional.

Uncle Sol’s Cabin

The Hindman Settlement School was founded in 1902 with a mission to to provide education and service opportunities for people of the mountains, while keeping them mindful of their heritage.” The school runs multiple programs, some of which support families of children suffering from dyslexia, folk art education, and literary programs that provide “initiatives for mentoring emerging and established writers as they seek to hone their skills and understand the connections between self and place.” With the death toll climbing daily, people still missing or have lost their homes and livelihoods the school became a hub to distribute acted as hub for distributing food, water, first-aid, and shelter to Eastern Kentucky residents. However, the school and the community are still without drinkable running water and the focus is on rebuilding. If you are interested in assisting, whether as a volunteer, contributing to their Amazon Wish List, or by donating, please visit Hindman Settlement School Flood Relief.

Town of Hindman, Kentucky

For a signed copy of Drowned Town visit link: Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Want to learn more about Drowned Town and the author, Jayne Moore Waldrop, visit her author website: JAYNE MOORE WALDROP | AUTHOR


Leave a Reply