Homes damaged, belongings destroyed in Eastern Kentucky floods

George Foster, center, and Shanna Foster, right, sit with their five children inside the shelter at the Breathitt County High School gymnasium, following flooding in the area. The family had just bought their first home on Panbowl Lake two weeks ago, and now they fear flood waters may have taken everything they own. March 3, 2021

JACKSON, Ky. — Baby strollers floating in a front yard. Family photos, caked with mud, on a warped living room floor. Cars submerged and precious keepsakes lost.

This is the reality facing many in Eastern Kentucky, whose homes were ravaged by historic floods this week.

In the Breathitt County city of Jackson, state officials issued evacuation orders Tuesday evening for those living near the Panbowl Lake dam, but by Wednesday, the high water throughout the area had begun to recede, leaving a mess in its wake.

'You really didn't have time to think'

Beneath a blue pipe running along the ceiling, painted with the white letters “Breathitt Bobcats,” Shanna Foster sat on a cot while her five children read books and slept behind her.

Shanna, 33, and her husband of three years, George, just purchased their Panbowl area trailer home about two weeks ago. They hadn’t yet set up their homeowners’ insurance, delayed first by a snowstorm last month and then the flooding that drove them from their home to the temporary shelter.

Now, they have to start over again.

The Fosters were among the 30 to 50 people who have sought shelter in the Breathitt County High School gym since Monday.

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