Announcing: Forward from the Flood!

Read to learn about our new initiative in Appalachia.

From the desk of Sister Larraine

Last night (Thursday 1/12), thanks to WWB Advocate David Moose, I presented an update on our work with flood survivors of eastern Kentucky to the East Louisville Lions Club. Several of the attendees were Appalachian natives, either from eastern Kentucky or Tennessee, so of course that made for personal thoughts and insights -- always a welcome addition for this presenter! We especially talked about our shared frustration of the long-term nature of the “water problems” of the region. Inequitable access to safe drinking water in Appalachian communities has a long and frustrating history that well predated the floods of July 2022, with no end in sight. 

Just to illustrate from our WWB experience: Dr. Kassi Marshall and Rev. Brian Bridges, our lead coordinators, still come across folks who are drinking from unimproved ground water sources, often, the local “branch” or small creek that runs through their family holler. Heartbreakingly, these people who did have homes are now camping through the winter. One day, Dr. Kassi came across not one, but two pregnant women who were drinking branch water. 

Rev. Bridges, pastor of Chavies 1st Church of God, regularly reminds us that two winters past, his area of Perry County went 45 days with no running water. 45 days... and that’s not that unusual. Boil water advisories are proclaimed with alarming frequency, no matter the weather... just a normal part of life for our fellow citizens.

A few weeks ago, I joined team member Sr. Kathleen Weigand for her distribution activities in a fairly good-sized town -- large enough for its own Walmart. Turning on the kitchen faucet to rinse out my coffee cup, I was alarmed by the worst-smelling water that I’ve ever encountered anywhere -- and that’s saying a lot. 

We don’t make the claim that Water With Blessings and Sawyer filters are the solution for this situation. As with the Navajo Nation and other Native communities, whose water realities closely mirror those of Appalachia, we want our fellow citizens to have the same ready access to safe drinking water as we enjoy.

And we can’t agree that bottled water is the answer. In fact, we hope that all of us become more and more mindful of the rising mountains of plastic bottles on our Earth, and rising levels of microplastics in our own blood (also unfortunately associated to some degree with many municipal water sources). Let’s wean ourselves away from this terrible habit, in the spirit of our WaterKeeper identity, and refuse to drink water from disposable bottles. 

To return to Appalachia -- as with the Native communities -- our mission is a stop gap measure between the reality and the very slow pace of change that we see happening. As Water With Blessings, we applaud the constant work to undo these unjust inequities -- but we also know the urgent need for safe drinking water now, not in decades to come. 

And so today we are pleased to announce a new initiative, moving forward from the flood: We are transitioning our flood relief project in eastern Kentucky to a full-scale distribution across Appalachia. A partnership with Feeding East Kentucky will support a full-time paid coordinator through special funding that creates new jobs in the area. We are super excited about our soon-to-be mobile distribution unit; a sweet little Ford Ranger truck acquired at a generous price from a WWB volunteer, which will soon sport attention-grabbing graphics as it takes to the mountain roads. Watch for future photos! As “Appalachian Spring” (my favorite symphony!) arrives, our volunteers will be out and about in the mountains bringing the much needed gift of Sawyer filters to those who continue to live with these realities. 

Please share this email with anyone who might have a heart for our Appalachian friends! And please consider a donation (button below) to support our new Appalachian initiative. Together, forward from the flood!


Sister Larraine

Here’s a link to our slide presentation! WWB EKY to Appalachia

Click Here to donate for Eastern Kentucky

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