LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WJHL) – Eastern Kentucky is still reeling from devastating flooding that destroyed many homes and businesses and killed at least 37 people.
In neighboring Letcher County, the town of Neon saw its downtown all but washed away. Among the businesses affected were the flower shop and dance studio owned by Bonnie Kincer and her husband.
Kincer told News Channel 11 she vividly remembers finding her prized dance studio torn apart by flooding.
“I came in front, and I stopped, and I screamed as loud as I could because I couldn’t bear to look back,” Kincer said, holding back tears.
The award-winning studio had been swept away, but several of the trophies inside were left standing. Kincer said the cleanup was difficult, but others helped ease the burden.
“We started trying to clean up,” Kincer said. “We had a lot of people to help us.”
Kincer’s studio was a happy place for many Letcher County children. She said even kids who couldn’t afford studio rates were always welcome to dance on her stage.
“It’s been a saving grace for the kids in this community,” said Larissa Bailey, whose daughter was among the kids who loved the studio. “The school bus stops here every day. She and her husband, Randall, go out and get the kids off the school bus. They feed them, they take care of them, then they play.
The Kincer stage is silent following the floods, and she doesn’t know when she and her young dancers will be able to return.
“We’re hoping to get help from FEMA, but we’re told it’s very difficult for them to be able to cover all of our losses because there are so many of them,” Kincer said. “We just don’t know where we’re going to go, but we can’t sit back and give up.”
The July floods caused so much damage that President Joe Biden and the First Lady scheduled a visit to eastern Kentucky on Monday to inspect affected areas and visit families.