NewsCovering Kentucky


Kentuckians fundraise, collect books for libraries destroyed by floodwaters

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Posted at 6:30 AM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 06:55:26-04

(LEX 18) — Books are something so many of us take for granted. But for flood survivors in Eastern Kentucky, damaged and destroyed libraries are just another reminder of what they’ve lost.

Letcher County librarian Tessa Fugate-Caudill has spent the past few weeks cleaning out the Fleming Neon branch in Neon. Much of it is beyond repair—books, computers, and historical documents.

“Libraries are so much more than just books,” said Fugate-Caudill. “A lot of our people have lost their gathering space, their hangout spot. Our kids' programs that are so popular.”

Floodwaters also damaged the Blackey branch and destroyed the county’s bookmobile.

“That really hurts, because he travels to the parts of our county where people tend to almost be forgotten about,” said Fugate-Caudill. “They’re definitely underserved populations of Letcher County. Not just the faraway places where people can’t get to a branch but the homebound, elderly, people that are sick.”

Last week, Kentucky author Kim Michele Richardson organized a GoFundMe for the Letcher County public libraries. So far, it’s raised nearly $16,000 of the $25,000 goal. She told LEX 18 she felt called to fund raise for the libraries in part because she writes historical fiction inspired by Eastern Kentucky librarians from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Fugate-Caudill is grateful for all of the help but says she knows there’s a long way to go. Right now, she hopes the Fleming Neon branch can reopen by March.

Meanwhile, the historic flooding also destroyed two elementary school libraries and one middle school library in Letcher County.

Superintendent Denise Yonts asked for donated books online and says the district has received so many, they no longer have space to store them. That’s where Pulaski County schools come in.

Music teacher Jeremy Cole is organizing a book drive that runs until September 2. People can drop off books in good condition to any school in Pulaski County. Cole says they will store them until Letcher County schools are able to take them.

Another way to help get books to flood survivors in Eastern Kentucky is by purchasing them online from bookstores in the area. This idea came from the owner of Plaid Elephant Books in Danville.

She says if you’d like to buy books and help impacted small businesses at the same time, order books online from You can choose to purchase books from, for example, Read Spotted Newt in Hazard.