This story has been updated.
It almost sounds like a broken record at this point, but it’s not enough that Kentucky is in one of the most depressed economic regions in the United States, it is also getting the worst of it when it comes to natural disasters. It was just last December that multiple long track tornadoes, including one that was on the ground for 17 miles, tore through Bremen, Kentucky in Muhlenberg County once chronicled by John Prine in song, killing 11 of the town’s 350 residents, along with other damage and deaths throughout the region.
Then on July 28th, historic rains were dumped on portions of eastern Kentucky in what is being described as a “thousand-year flooding event” with at least 37 people confirmed dead, and dozens still missing or unaccounted for. Knott, Letcher, Perry, and Pike counties got the worst of it, affecting the communities of Hazard, Paintsville, Jackson, Prestonburg, Martin, Pikeville, Hindman, Whitesburg, Jenkins, and Neon.
For those that know their country music geography, this is right in the heartland of country music, and specifically along the “Country Music Highway”—the name affectionately given to US Highway 23 that runs through the region. The Country Music Highway Museum is located in Paintsville. This region birthed Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, Loretta Lynn, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall, Patty Loveless, Gary Stewart, Billy Ray Cyrus, and so many others.
Though you won’t see any press releases about it, or social media posts about it from their personal accounts, both Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton have been spotted in the region with their boots on the ground directly helping local residents after the historic flooding.
Chris Stapleton grew up in Staffordsville, Kentucky, which is just outside of Paintsville. He was spotted earlier this week in a Wal-Mart in Prestonsburg, KY buying supplies for flood victims. He was also in Knott County helping to clean out flooded houses. The below picture was taken by Amber Hamilton of Martin, Kentucky, and reposted on social media.
Chris Stapleton also showed up to volunteer to help with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which had dispatched a team to help in the area. “No job was to small or beneath him. This man loves Eastern KY and he wanted to be gods hands and feet for the people who need help the most right now!”
Tyler Childers grew up right in Paintsville, Kentucky, and graduated from Paintsville High School. He was spotted in a pair of mud boots in Jenkins, Kentucky lending a helping hand to local residents. Photographer Lynn Caudill Gilliam of local CBS affiliate WYMT photographed Childers with local resident James Addington.
Tyler Childers was in the Burdine area of Jenkins today helping with flood cleanup. He is pictured here with James Addington from Jenkins.— WYMT (@WYMT) July 31, 2022
📸: Lynn Caudill Gilliam pic.twitter.com/LGYLeIUMKx
Neither of these men will make a public spectacle of what they’re doing, but the local residents will certainly recognize their faces, because they regularly show up to pitch in for their local communities, whether someone is there to report on it or snap a picture, or not.
T. Graham Brown will also be collecting donated items on Wednesday, August 3rd between 10 – 2 pm at the WALMART in Franklin, Tennessee located at 3600 Mallory Ln. to deliver to the region. Billy Strings is also donating 100% of his online merch sales from August 1st to 5th to flood relief.
If you would like to help, you can donate to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, to Appalachian Crisis Aid, the ARH Foundation Flood Relief Fund, or perhaps make a donation to Healing Appalachia, of which Tyler Childers is a direct supporter of, and which is helping to fight the opioid crisis also ravaging the region.