Floods strike new blow in place that has known hardship

JACKSON, Ky. — Evelyn Smith lost everything in the floods that devastated eastern Kentucky, saving only her grandson’s muddy tricycle. But she’s not planning to leave the mountains that have been her home for 50 years.

Like many families in this dense, forested region of hills, deep valleys and meandering streams, Smith’s roots run deep. Her family has lived in Knott County for five generations. They’ve built connections with people that have sustained them, even as an area long mired in poverty has hemorrhaged more jobs with the collapse of the coal industry.

After fast-rising floodwaters from nearby Troublesome Creek swamped her rental trailer, Smith moved in with her mother. At age 50 she is disabled, suffering from a chronic breathing disorder, and knows she won’t be going back to where she lived; her landlord told her he won’t put trailers back in the same spot. Smith, who didn’t have insurance, doesn’t know what her next move will be.

“I’ve cried until I really can’t cry no more,” she said. “I’m just in shock. I don’t really know what to do now.”

For many

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