KNOTT COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) – Taking a walk through Hindman Elementary School, no one would think the halls were flooded with 3 feet of water. Although the floors are now concrete and the smell is a little off, the first day back to school is a turning point in the return to normalcy for Knott County.

“It has been … very challenging to say the least,” Superintendent Brent Hoover told FOX 56. “2 to 3 inches of muck through the building, so very challenging. Beyond that, we had sewer issues, some sanitation issues, we’ve had electrical issues, we’ve had some heating and plumbing issues,” he said.

School supply donations line the hallway outside his office, all part of the multi-state outpour to bring kids back to class on time. A week ago classrooms were empty, now decorations line the walls.

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“School starting is probably the best thing for our kids right now,” Knott County resident Leah Fugate told FOX 56. Her entire neighborhood was destroyed. She and her kids knew the four children this community lost and knows it is a void that will take a lot of time to fill  

“My kids have had a hard time with it, especially my sixth grader. It’s just for them this is something that is just – they’re shocked. But every day we’re dealing with it, we’re talking, we’re doing counseling,” she said.

Fugate believes that having the personal interaction that school provides will help and it’s a breath of fresh air for a community still facing a long recovery.

“The enthusiasm and excitement was amazing in all the buildings I’ve been in today, the kids were so excited to be back the parents as they were dropping kids off they were excited, the teachers, it’s the best opening day that I have seen in my 28 years at Knott County Schools,” Hoover said.  

2 out of the 3 damaged Knott County school buildings are now back in use. By Tuesday all public schools in the flood zone are expected to be back in session.

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