In a new report from the Ohio River Valley Institute and Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, we estimate it will cost $450 to 950 million to rebuild the approximately 9,000 homes damaged by the flood that swept through southeastern Kentucky in 2022, depending on how many homes are relocated to less flood-prone areas.
The report estimates the cost of damage to the housing stock based on the cost to repair or replace homes. Two different approaches to rebuilding are examined. If homes are repaired or replaced where they were before the flood (approach A), the total cost would be about $450 million. Relocating and replacing many of the homes to less flood-prone areas (approach B) would raise the total cost to over $950 million. While rebuild approach B may be more expensive in the short run, it would prevent future damage by relocating homes to less flood-prone areas and thus would likely be the less expensive option in the long run. It is also likely to save lives during future floods.
Read an accompanying analysis comparing state, federal, and philanthropic funding for housing to our estimated cost to rebuild.
Nearly 22,000 people were living in homes damaged by the flood, 44% of whom are children or seniors. Households with damaged homes are among those with the least ability to pay for home repairs in all of Kentucky: there is a higher share of low-income households among homes damaged by the flood than among all households in the region or in the state. Six in 10 households with damaged homes reported annual incomes of less than $30,000.
Most households with damaged homes did not have insurance policies to cover flood damage. Sixty-six percent (66%) of damaged homes have received some FEMA repair or replacement assistance, totaling $77 million in awards. However, this $77 million in FEMA awards will cover only 8 to 17% of the estimated $453 to $958 million in rebuild costs.
The many low-income families with damaged homes will find it challenging or impossible to rebuild. Policymakers have the opportunity to take action that could not only repair damage from the 2022 flood but ensure families and communities are protected from future flood risks.
Scroll over the map below to view data for each county. The four counties of Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, and Perry experienced the most damage. The housing damage costs in these four counties is about 78% of the total housing damage.