Graphic reading: Superintendents Huddle, Flood Recovery, Oct. 11, 2022

Superintendents of the July flood-impacted districts in eastern Kentucky informed Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) leadership at an Oct. 11 meeting that their districts are turning their recovery efforts toward helping families and students during the holiday season.

Perry County Superintendent Jonathan Jett said the district’s top priority is focusing on making sure displaced families currently living in temporary housing are attended to during the holidays through programs such as a Thanksgiving meal outreach.

“It’s not really optimal conditions to fix a Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “Then shifting to what can we do for those students and families for Christmas.

“We are glad to have them out of the cold weather but again, those trailers are not conducive to Christmas trees and that nature so we want to make sure we are providing gifts for families and kids that were impacted by the flood.”

In Floyd County, Superintendent Anna Shepherd said the district still has 23 students from 14 families and two staff members living at state parks.

“Our Family Resource and Youth Services Center and schools are working on goals for those families around the holidays, the staff and the students,” she said.

Sondra Combs, superintendent of Hazard Independent School District, said many of their displaced families are working to get back into their homes or looking at purchasing double-wide trailers. The district wants to make the holidays special for them this year.

“We’re looking for the holidays and how we can help them even with Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas,” Combs said. “We’re all trying to work together and make sure these families have what they need and feel good.”

Dawson Springs Independent Superintendent Leonard Whalen, whose community in western Kentucky was impacted by tornadoes in December 2021, said that the superintendents’ comments sounded similar to what his community experienced last year.

“If you all feel the need to put out an all call across the state that Christmas items are needed,” he said, “there will be a lot of people standing at the ready, myself included, to help deliver toys and Christmas needs should you all need that.”

KDE will continue to hold the superintendents’ huddle every two weeks through the end of the holiday season to provide support for impacted districts and families.