Trailers offer temporary home as flood victims plan future

Sep 9, 2022, 4:38 PM | Updated: Sep 10, 2022, 4:41 am
Lyndon Hall, top left, and Jordan Perkins, right, sit around their campsite at Jenny Wiley State Pa...

Lyndon Hall, top left, and Jordan Perkins, right, sit around their campsite at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. Displaced by the floods in early July, the men have been staying in travel trailers as they wait for workers to become available to rebuild their homes. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — David Stephens’ children romped around the small patch of grass they’ve turned into a makeshift playground, running and laughing — seemingly without a care in the world.

Their father, though, is gripped by worry about the future. And he marvels at his kids’ resilience, considering the losses and hardships they’ve endured.

When floodwaters engulfed their eastern Kentucky home in late July, they first moved into a motel. Now Stephens, his 8-year-old son, Loki, and 6-year-old daughter, Kerrigan, are staying in a travel trailer — taking their place among those displaced by the disaster in a recreational area filled with lawn chairs, picnic tables, bikes and toys as people grasp for some sense of normalcy.

“My kids are pretty tough, and we’ve been through a lot,” he said. “We lost everything we had.”

They’re staying at a state park campground, where trailers set up in long rows have become temporary homes for families trying to figure out how and where to rebuild after historic flooding caused at least 39 deaths in the state. Some are still waiting for checks they hope are coming from the federal government. Others have gotten their money but are stuck on waiting lists for much-in-demand carpentry crews.

Fleets of trailers are descending on the Appalachian region — some brought in from western Kentucky, where they served a similar purpose for people who lost homes when tornadoes hit in December.

Kentucky is receiving up to 300 donated travel trailers from another state well acquainted with natural disaster, Louisiana. Sixty-five trailers have arrived so far, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at a Frankfort news conference Thursday. The trailers originally were acquired to shelter people displaced by Hurricane Ida in 2021.

In eastern Kentucky, about 300 people have moved into 100 trailers at various sites, with more on the way or being prepared onsite for people still waiting, Beshear said. Area state parks are still housing more than 340 people left homeless by the flooding.

“Getting the trailers is not our challenge,” the Democratic governor said. “It’s safe places to hook them up. It’s the electric; it’s the utilities. And we continue to search for more.”

The trailers offer a place where families can “spread out a little bit,” Beshear said. During a recent stop in Hazard, he saw trailers being set up at a park offering a range of recreational activities.

In the desperate days after floodwaters inundated homes, and swept some away, many people in the region took refuge in makeshift shelters at churches and schools. The trailers are part of a progression toward the ultimate goal — getting people back into permanent housing.

The governor emphasized the trailers aren’t a long-term solution to housing challenges.

“We don’t want these to be forever homes,” Beshear said. “This is not the end; this is the middle. This is intermediate housing.”

But some occupants expect to spend the coming holidays and at least part of 2023 in the trailers. They’re grateful for the temporary lodging but long for something more settled.

“Having a place of your own is good, but I’d rather it be like a house,” said Jordan Perkins, 31, who is sharing a trailer with his girlfriend along with their dog and cat.

He’s hoping a carpenter gets to work rebuilding his grandfather’s house, where he lived and worked as an IT specialist before the flood hit. His grandfather is staying with a family friend. Lacking internet service at the trailer, Perkins bought boxed sets of TV shows on Blu-ray to pass some of the time.

“I wish I had internet and phone service,” Perkins said. “That’s really the biggest problem with being over here. You’re isolated. And people want that when they come over here (to camp), but they don’t necessarily want that when they have to live here.”

Perkins was sitting outside at the state park campground with his new neighbor, Lyndon Hall. Having worked most of his life, Hall, a 57-year-old mechanic, is taking some time off.

“I ain’t never taken a vacation,” he said, a beer in one hand. “Feels pretty good.”

Hall also is biding time in a trailer until he reaches the top of the waiting list for carpenters to rebuild his home, where he also operated his business. Family and friends stop by to visit, and he spends some of his time fishing in a nearby lake. The catfish have been biting, he said.

A few doors down, Bernard Carr is sharing his trailer with his 13-year-old Chihuahua, Wiley. The 84-year-old retired carpenter and Marine Corps veteran spends his days taking his dog outside and listening to country music and the news on his radio. He doesn’t drive anymore, so a friend brings him food and takes care of his laundry.

He spent two weeks in his flood-damaged home until “everything started molding,” he said. Other than the lack of cable TV access, Carr had two complaints about his new lodging.

“I can’t let my dog loose,” Carr said. “She was always used to going out in the yard, playing.”

His only other complaint?

“I’ve got my American flag in there and no place to put it,” he said.

Several families in the region already have moved on from the travel trailers to other housing, and Stephens, 43, intends to do the same. He’s planning to take his kids to another place with more room once it’s ready to move in.

Until then, his children will keep playing outside their trailer, with bikes, scooters and other toys — all donated — strewn nearby.

“They’re good kids,” Stephens said. “I’m lucky.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washing...
Associated Press

Jackson set to make Supreme Court debut in brief ceremony

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is making her first appearance on the Supreme Court bench in a brief courtroom ceremony three days ahead of the start of the high court’s new term. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are expected Friday at the invitation-only ceremonial investiture for Jackson, the […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

Musk and Twitter CEO Agrawal were briefly pals, texts show

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Newly disclosed text messages between Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal showed that the two men briefly bonded in the spring over their love of engineering — at least until Musk publicly tweeted this message early on April 9: ‘ Is Twitter dying? ‘” That soured a relationship that appeared […]
22 hours ago
FILE - An Optus phone sign hangs above its store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Aust...
Associated Press

Police say hacker concealed ID in Australian privacy breach

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The computer hacker who stole personal data of almost 10 million customers of a telecommunications company in one of Australia’s worst privacy breaches used techniques to conceal their identity, actions and whereabouts, police said on Friday. Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough, who heads cyber investigations, said the international probe, […]
22 hours ago
Attorney John Burris poses for photos at his office in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. For...
Associated Press

Civil rights lawyer John Burris confronts police narratives

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Before John Burris became the go-to lawyer for Northern California families grieving a loved one killed by police, the civil rights legend was a child suspicious of the Santa Claus narrative. He didn’t understand why Santa was white. He was confused by Santa’s modus operandi — landing on rooftops to slide […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: September 30, Berlin Airlift ends

Today in History Today is Friday, Sept. 30, the 273rd day of 2022. There are 92 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Sept. 30, 1777, the Continental Congress — forced to flee in the face of advancing British forces — moved to York, Pennsylvania. On this date: In 1791, Mozart’s opera […]
22 hours ago
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Trailers offer temporary home as flood victims plan future