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Letcher county starts to dance again; artists heal their businesses and communities in the wake of devastating floods

by Rowan Roudebush|December 16, 2022

From tattoo parlors to dance studios, art businesses in Letcher County, Kentucky have long served as gathering places for the creative community.  This past July, record flooding hit eastern Kentucky, and forced many of these businesses to close.  Months later, some have rebuilt, others have relocated, and some remain unsure of what the future holds. Listen to the story on our soundcloud.

Bonnie Kincer stands in front of the newly rebuilt kitchen at Busy Bee’s Flower shop and Dance Studio in Fleming Neon. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.

Halfway through cleaning up from the flood, the damage still seems overwhelming. Photo contributed by Bonnie Kincer.


Volunteers were willing to get covered in mud to help Kincer recover from the nine feet of water that destroyed her dance studio. Photo contributed by Bonnie Kincer.


Kincer rests on some boxes as the end of her rebuilding process approaches. Her contractor finishes up for the day. Photo by Rowan Roudebush


Among the damage was decades of photos that Kincer had posted on her wall, including one of her own granddaughter in Obama’s inaugural parade. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.

Lacy Hale, the owner of Sisyphus records in Whitesburg, recently relocated her record shop (previously named Roundabout Records), to the same space as her art studio and gallery, Epicenter Arts. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


Hale made these stickers in response to comments made that Appalachians should just move out of the mountains after the flood. The funds she raised from the stickers were donated to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, who were providing heaters for people whose homes were destroyed. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


Hale said she enjoys having her record shop in the same space as her art studio. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


John Haywood, owner and lead tattoo artist of The Parlor Room Tattoo parlor, has been operating out of his personal studio since the flood. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


The Parlor Room may never flip its open sign again. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


The water line is still visible on the doors of The Parlor Room. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


Haywood’s personal studio has become a space for him to practice all his trades. His band, Appalachiatari practices here, and the walls are lined with the art he produces here as well. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


Haywood has been taking clients here since the flood. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.


In Fleming Neon on Thursday December 8th, Bonnie’s students were able to dance again on her newly rebuilt stage. Photo by Rowan Roudebush.




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