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Appalachian production company recovers from Kentucky flooding

WATE Knoxville logo WATE Knoxville 5 days ago Hope McAlee
Appalachian production company recovers from Kentucky flooding © Provided by WATE Knoxville Appalachian production company recovers from Kentucky flooding

WHITESBURG, Ky. (WATE) - A Kentucky-based production company that specializes in Appalachian history is recovering with the help of the community from the recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky.

The Appalshop suffered intense damage last week. The building was built in 1982, and houses many of the Appalshop projects, including their archives, radio station, and theater, which were damaged by the flood waters. Luckily, with the rainfall overnight and floods rising in the morning, no one was at Appalshop when the floods hit. Although no one had to evacuate the Appalshop, some staff members did have to evacuate their homes.

Thursday evening after the rains subsided, staff were able to see the Appalshop, but they were not able to get into the building until the weekend as the flood waters lowered. After closer inspection, it appears that the floods caused damage across the first floor of the building, with estimates of the flood depths being between 5 and 6 feet.

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The full extent of the damage may not be known for weeks, according to Meredith Scalos, Communications Director for Appalshop. Appalshop staff are working with insurance and other authorities to find out the value of the items destroyed and structural damage that the flood caused.

  • (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop) © Provided by WATE Knoxville (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop)
  • (Photo credit: Appalshop Staff, shared by Appalshop) © Provided by WATE Knoxville (Photo credit: Appalshop Staff, shared by Appalshop)
  • (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop) © Provided by WATE Knoxville (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop)
  • (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop) © Provided by WATE Knoxville (Photo credit: Oakley Fugate, shared by Appalshop)

The damage that is certain is that the equipment in the radio station is most likely a complete loss. Scalos said that the equipment was fully submerged for multiple hours, but they are working with other stations in the area to attempt to get their radio network back on the air soon.

The archives are one of the more pressing projects to avoid any further damage. Scalos said that they are hoping that their quick response to dry materials kept in the archive saved the materials from being a complete loss. It is not certain how much of the archive material will be severely damaged or a complete loss, but paper documents, artifacts, and footage are included in the potentially damaged items. Some of the core finished projects the Appalshop has completed are archived digitally with multiple copies, however, the additional footage, photograph negatives, and other materials that were not included in the final projects may have been damaged as well.

The Roadside Theater on the first floor also received some damage, specifically damage to the theater seats and some equipment.

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The help of the community, not just for the Appalshop, but for the whole area, has been overwhelming, Scalos emphasized. Volunteer crews have been helping with archive recovery to attempt to prepare materials for restoration. Moving forward, volunteers are still expected to be needed for ongoing efforts for recovery at Appalshop, to deliver supplies to individuals and to provide food and refreshments for volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit their website for more information and to let Appalshop know of your interest.

In the midst of what seems to be chaos, the Appalshop has remained devoted to their original purpose: the people of Appalachia. On their website, they have a page dedicated to resources for flood victims and other organizations that help the community. On the resources page, physical and monetary donations are listed for other community organizations.

How to help eastern Kentucky flooding victims

The Appalshop began in 1969 as a film workshop, with the goals to teach young Appalachians to operate film equipment, boost the economy through vocational training, and offer a different view of Eastern Kentucky than the American posterchild for poverty according to their website. Over 50 years later, Appalshop is continuing this legacy by documenting and revitalizing the traditions and creativity of Appalachia.

The Appalshop operates a radio station, a theater, a public art gallery, a record label, an archive, a filmmaking institute, a reproductive justice program, a community development program, and a multiple more initiatives out of the renovated warehouse in downtown Whitesburg, Kentucky.

More information about Appalshop is available on their website. Scalos also mentioned that they will be updating the public about ongoing information on their Facebook, and through their email list.

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