Chart Book: Tracking Recovery from the Kentucky Flood of 2022

In late July 2022, severe storms dumped extreme precipitation across southeast Kentucky. With so much rain bearing down over such a short period, streams rose to unprecedented levels and the region experienced catastrophic flooding. This page summarizes FEMA data regarding the flood damage as well as the relief and recovery process.

Data is based on who has applied for FEMA aid as of the date last updated. Specifically, data is based on applicants to the main FEMA program to which households apply, the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). IHP includes both Housing Assistance (HA) and Other Needs Assistance (ONA). Unless specified otherwise below, “FEMA aid” refers to FEMA IHP assistance and “applicants” refers to households that have applied.

Not everyone impacted by the flood applies for FEMA aid, so this data is an incomplete picture of the impacts of the flood. One way to think about this data is as a lower-bound or conservative estimate for many of the variables covered. 

The chart book is organized as follows:

    1. FEMA aid amounts
    2. Demographic and income data on applicants
    3. Shelter, food, and other needs reported by applicants
    4. Housing damage
Geographies included

Data on this page covers 13 Kentucky counties approved by FEMA for individual aid. Some tables (where specified) also provide data for the four county area that includes Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, and Perry–counties where the damages appears to be the most severe. Flooding occurred in Virginia and West Virginia as well but those areas are not included in FEMA’s designation.

 

Data sources

Data on this page is drawn from OpenFEMA, a dataset that includes information from actual applications for FEMA assistance submitted by individuals. It is updated weekly as more individuals apply and as older applications are updated. FEMA warns that OpenFEMA is “raw, unedited data” that “should not be considered an official federal report.”

Some of the data below is from 2020 survey data from the US Census Bureau (i.e. Census 2020). Specifically, the Census’s 2020 American Community Survey (5-year estimates) is the most recent data source for relevant background statistics such as county population.

 

Date last updated: November 5, 2022

We will routinely update the page with the latest FEMA data and may add to what’s included in this chart book as the recovery proceeds.

 

Suggested citation: Eric Dixon, “Chart Book: Tracking Recovery from the Kentucky Flood of 2022,” Ohio River Valley Institute, November 5, 2022, https://ohiorivervalleyinstitute.org/chart-book-tracking-the-recovery-from-the-kentucky-flood-of-2022/

 


1. FEMA Aid Amounts

The FEMA Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides assistance to eligible households after a disaster. It includes Housing Assistance (HA), which can help cover repair or replacement of damaged homes as well as rental or hotel assistance. IHP also includes Other Needs Assistance (ONA), which can help cover child care, medical expenses, cleanup items, storage costs, and more. Households are deemed eligible for both, either, or neither of HA and/or ONA.

 

How many households and people have applied for FEMA aid?

  • Number of households that have applied for aid: 16,023
  • Applicant households as a share of total households in the area: 14.5%
  • Number of households in four county area (Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, Perry) that have applied for aid: 10,108
  • Applicant households as a share of total households in the four county area: 31.1%
  • Number of people in households that have applied for aid: 34,208
  • Number of people in households in four county area that have applied for aid: 22,739

 


 

 

 

 

The maximum possible award for Housing Assistance (HA) is capped by FEMA at $37,900. ONA awards are similarly capped at $37,900 (there are some exceptions for covered items that can exceed the cap).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2. Demographic and income data on applicants

 

 

  • Children (under age 19) in applicant households: 7,663  (22% of total population in households applying)
  • Seniors (age 65+) in applicant households: 5,842  (17% of total population in households applying)
  • Children and seniors: 13,505  (39% of total population in households applying)

 

 


3. Shelter, food, and other needs reported by applicants

 

 


4. Housing damage

How many applicants are homeowners or renters?

  • Share of applicants who are homeowners: 72%
  • Share of applicants who are renters: 28%

Context on the local housing market (Census 2020): The breakdown of FEMA applicants by homeowner/renter approximately mirrors the breakdown for occupied housing units in the area in 2020 (73% homeowners, 27% renters). Kentucky overall has a larger share of renters (32%) and smaller share of homeowners (68%).

 

 

 

 

 

Context on the local housing market (Census 2020): The breakdown of FEMA applicants by residence type approximately mirrors the breakdown for occupied housing units in the area in 2020 (62% house/duplex, 32% manufactured home, 6% multi-family housing). Kentucky overall has a larger share of houses/duplexes (75%) and much smaller share of manufactured homes (10%).

 

 

 

 

 

Was the home a primary residence and did it have flood insurance?

  • Share of applicants who are applying for FEMA aid for a primary residence: 95%
  • Share of applicants who have flood insurance: 4%
    This is not an estimate of the number of households in the impacted area that had flood insurance – only the share of FEMA applicants who have flood insurance.

 

How much money did homeowners owe on their homes?

FEMA IHP does not collect mortgage or house value data on applicants, but here is some relevant context on the local housing market (Census 2020): 

Mortgages: The share of owner-occupied homes in the area with a mortgage or similar debt in 2020 was 35.1%. If a homeowner owed money on their mortgage, lost their home during the flood, and had no flood insurance, then presumably the homeowner still owes money on their destroyed home and must also find resources to rebuild or finance a new home.

House value: The median house value of owner-occupied homes in the area was $73,393 in 2020; the median house value of owner-occupied homes in Kentucky was $147,100 in 2020.

Year moved into home: 37% of householders in the area moved into their home before 2000, compared to only 27% across Kentucky overall.

 


FEMA data disclaimer: This product uses the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s OpenFEMA API, but is not endorsed by FEMA. The Federal Government or FEMA cannot vouch for the data or analyses derived from these data after the data have been retrieved from the Agency's website(s).

 

Eric Dixon

Eric focuses on economic and environmental policy in Appalachia and beyond. Prior to joining ORVI, Eric was an organizer and policy advocate at Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, where he worked on issues such as black lung and damage from abandoned coal mines.