Man wearing black observes debris in river pushing against a covered bridge
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KENTUCKY: July 2022 Floods

Offering Personal Protective Equipment and Technical Assistance to Heritage Stewards

Tyvek suits, heavy duty gloves and boots, and N95 masks are an absolute necessity for anyone working in the aftermath of a flood where the water may be contaminated. In a disaster situation when deliveries stop, and the internet is unstable, personal protective equipment is hard to get. 

In July 2022, when Eastern Kentucky recorded historic rainfall amounts resulting in some of the worst flooding the region had ever experienced, affected Kentucky cultural institutions reached out for help.

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), which the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative co-chairs with FEMA, sprang into action. SCRI provided personal protective equipment and connected Smithsonian experts for consultation with Kentucky heritage stewards on emergency stabilization methods.

One effort centered on Appalshop, a media, arts, and education center and the hub of Appalachian filmmaking in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The determined staff and volunteers mounted an enormous salvage operation, working around the clock to clean the facility and save the irreplaceable collection. The Museum of the Mountain Dulcimer and the Appalachian Artisan Center also received supplies and assistance.

We continue to coordinate with the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Coalition for Arts' Preparedness and Emergency Response, working with local arts community members on recovery and additional opportunities for assistance.

Image: Brittany Petty, Kentucky Historical Society