Letcher County students return to classroom following July floods

School leaders say they had to make several adjustments before bringing students back.

LETCHER COUNTY, Ky (WTVQ)- Letcher County students returned to the classroom Wednesday, nearly two months after devastating floods ravaged parts of eastern Kentucky.

“It wasn’t an ordinary flood. We get floods but this one was different. It was very devastating,” explained Letcher County Central High School principal Scottie Billiter said.

School leaders say they had to make several adjustments before bringing students back.  After historic flooding destroyed West Whitesburg Elementary, those students have now been moved to the top floor of the high school. 1200 students are now under one roof.

“Whatever we can do to help our neighbors. And the kids in the elementary school are the future of Letcher County Central Cougars, so we’re excited that they’re here,” said Billiter.

Safety is top of mind for much of the district. Leaders are having to temporarily modify bus routes because some roads that were damaged still aren’t travel-ready.

“Some of our roads that are still impassable, we are trying to find ways to get to our students and get them to our school. We also have, a lot of our homes were destroyed. A lot of people aren’t back in their homes. And going forward, that’s something that is going to be a challenge for us,” said Billiter.

The school is also still grieving after losing a member of its family in late July’s flooding.

“We lost a staff member. And that was the hardest part of it because just irreplaceable and was just a joy to our school staff,” said Billiter.

Overall, school leaders say recovery is going to take months, even years, before getting back to normal, But they say the strength of the community will help them get through on their road to recovery.

“I think we have a ‘commonwealth’ here. And it’s true, whatever I have, I share with others and that’s what we’ve seen here. It’s been a great blessing to us, the love and support from throughout our state,” said Billiter.

School leaders says staff members have been going through training to help any students. They say resources are ready and available should any one in the school system need them.


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