My family lost our home in EKY floods. We are still waiting for help from our legislators. | Opinion

Last month, on the first day of the General Assembly, I introduced myself to all of you — my neighbors — and shared my story of being a “survivor” of the East Kentucky floods of July 28, 2022. What my wife and daughters and I had through, and more importantly, what many of us are still living through.

I was at the Capitol at a press conference, calling on the legislature to spend some of the nearly $4 billion public dollars sitting in the Rainy Day Fund to help us heal, finally.

Our home holds the memories of holding my babies as they went to sleep, toes scraping my shins. The floods unhomed us, and I will never get those days back. Not knowing if I’ll ever get to live in my house with my family is excruciatingly painful. Everything we built and dreamed has been essentially washed away.

We need help. With a little help, many of us could get back home.

Are we forgotten about? Lost in the shuffle? A new statistic?

It’s not just help with housing that we need. What about the children that suffered through the Adverse Childhood Experiences? Our children are living through trauma, and they deserve quality mental health support. They’re not getting it.

We’re going on two years with these standing needs. We’re doing what we can for each other, showing heart and compassion for each other. But we can’t rebuild our lives, infrastructure, and communities without help.

Has the legislature forgotten us?

It appears that they have. The House ignored me and my story as they passed two budget bills last week with no money allocated to heal, re-build and bolster our infrastructure against the next flood. They also ignored our neighbors in Martin County, who are still without dependable and safe drinking water. They are ignoring all of us who are dealing with these problems that are just too big for us to solve alone. And that is exactly what the legislature should do with a Rainy Day Fund. My story is our story — all of us who have been hurting and waiting.

I have PTSD and it’s not from the flooded waters I saw, it’s not from the lifeless floating down the creek. I don’t stay awake at night because of the flood. I shake 24/7 now of the constant denials and the Olympic trials of appeals to try to get my family in our own home again. I’ve waited for the legislature to help for nearly two years.

We need funding for housing recovery and mental health. We still desperately need supplies. Martin County needs water. There is so much to be done, most of it could get fixed today.

Our state lawmakers should support us in helping each other when disaster strikes. We’ve got the money we need to make a real difference. Let us use it. If not … What are they saving the Rainy Day fund for exactly?

I was raised in a Kentucky that loved, a Kentucky that cared. I care so much about the things I have no control over. I leave you with this: If you’re out in Kentucky and you feel lost, you feel hopeless, you feel like you don’t matter —Remember you’re loved. Keep pushing and fighting the fight. Kentucky needs you!

Wesley Bryant is a parent and social worker living in Letcher County, and a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.