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Knott County teacher remembers students who passed away in flooding

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Posted at 10:30 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 22:30:52-04

KNOTT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Along Highway 550 in Knott County is the Emmalena community, where the creek separates the road from homes and what is left of homes.

"This right here is one family," said Ben Martin, a resident in Emmalena. "The whole community the whole neighborhood. We go down there and cook out and shoot fireworks. Everybody gets together."

Martin's home is doing okay, but it needs some work. It'll need new flooring, carpeting and windows will be atop the list.

"The first night we stayed here, there was this much mud here," said Martin. "When you got off the couch, you were walking in mud."

Passing by almost unfamiliar ground, you end up at Emmalena Elementary School. It's where Martin's daughter, Sunney Shanae Barnett, is a teacher. She's been warmed by the generosity in the community.

" **** I've gotten to see a lot of my kids down there," she said about going back to the school to see students helping distribute and collect items for victims.

This sweet reunion thought still has a bitter reality.

"And of course, a couple won't be there anymore," Barnett said with tears in her eyes.

Barnett says she had a student this past year in first grade. Her brother would have started Kindergarten.

"I even had a note from her that she wrote to me thanking me for taking her on a class trip," she said. "So I'll treasure it forever."

In the meantime, we've heard the word resilient used a lot in the last week. Eastern Kentucky residents will say it's a fact, that they'll be okay but asking for help is out of the norm for them.

"A lot of pride," Barnett said. "We don't like to ask for handouts. Not just our family, but the community itself."

"Hands and funding," Barnett added.

"We're good, but they're going to need help," Martin said. "A lot of help."