Sturgill Simpson’s Hometown of Jackson, KY Ravaged in Floods

Unless you’re in Kentucky or have been creeping on the Instagram profiles of some of your favorite artists from the region, you may be perfectly unaware of the flooding that ravaged eastern Kentucky earlier in March thanks all the Meghan Markle coverage preempting the devastating news. But the damage and has been significant, and by many accounts, Sturgill Simpson’s hometown of Jackson (pop. 2,200) has been the epicenter of it.

The area around Panbowl Lake that Sturgill sings about on the final track of his magnum opus Metamodern Sounds in Country Music suffered major flooding, and the dam to the lake was damaged, resulting in evacuations in the area. The Breathitt County High School in Jackson that Sturgill once dropped by for a surprise visit was set up as a shelter.

“My hometown of Jackson, KY seemingly suffered the worst of it, especially the immediate areas around Panbowl lake and Lakeside where I lived as a child,” Sturgill says in a missive on his website. “Over 25% of Breathitt County was affected and in Jackson, a city with a population of roughly just over 2000, over 1000 people were displaced or completely lost everything. Some of those who lost everything did not have very much to lose to begin with and are now literally living in tent cities.”

So to help raise funds for relief efforts, Sturgill Simpson has reinstated his “Dick Daddy Survival School” merch line that he used to successfully raise a large sum of cash for The Special Forces Foundation and various other charities through May and June of 2020. After fans met certain donation benchmarks, Sturgill vowed to record and eventually released two albums reprising his back catalog in bluegrass form, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Folks can also just donate directly to the cause.

“It goes without saying this is something weighing extremely heavy on my heart,” Sturgill says. “One week later, countless volunteers are still currently working around the clock managing donation distribution centers while city and county officials continue to evaluate what can and needs to be done. Not only in immediate terms of basic necessities and cleanup supplies but also long term to ensure every effort is being coordinated to help as many of those affected as possible rebuild their lives.”

Simpson was born and raised in Jackson, KY as the offspring of coal miners. Since his father worked as an undercover policeman in the area, the family decided eventually to move to Versalles, Kentucky outside of Lexington where Sturgill attended Woodford County High School. As Sturgill sings in the “Pan Bowl” song, “I’d give anything to go back, days I was young. All the way back to Pan Bowl, I sit down on the lake bed, stare at the sun…”

Simpson hasn’t been the only one vocal about helping out in eastern Kentucky. Senora May who is also from eastern Kentucky has been posting photos and information of ways people can help on her Instagram account, and helping to raise awareness about this overlooked tragedy.

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