Lynn Landry loads supplies for flood recovery into a patrol car. CONTRIBUTED

On July 26, Marathon residents Lynn and Freida Landry were on their way home from Hindman, Kentucky after visiting family for three weeks. Two days later, reports of deadly flooding in the area found them turning around to head back.

“The phone started blowing up at about 3:30 in the morning,” Lynn told Keys Weekly. “We left Thursday afternoon, drove straight through the night, got back up here about 8:00 on Friday morning and went to work.”

The devastation from the flooding of the Kentucky River soon became national news as an estimated 14-16 inches of rain fell over a five-day period, triggering deadly rising waters that have so far claimed the lives of at least 39 people. For context: in Jackson, Kentucky, water levels in the river rose from 18 feet to 43.47 feet in less than 24 hours, breaking a previous record of 43.1 feet set in 1939.

“Every time you turn a corner, it’s a disaster,” said Lynn. “One of our cousin’s girlfriend’s brother and sister got swept away in her trailer, which was less than a mile from our house. … The closest thing I can say is Irma.”

After checking in on family and helping with yard cleanups, the Landrys made their way to a distribution center set up at the Knott County Sportsplex, working 12- to 14-hour days handing out supplies to those in need.

Freida Landry stacks supplies at the Knott County Sportsplex for distribution to flood victims. CONTRIBUTED

“Unfortunately, we know exactly what they’re going through, which makes it a little bit easier for us to help,” Lynn said.

A GoFundMe set up by the Landrys is being used to purchase $100 Wal-Mart and Lowe’s gift cards for distribution to Knott County residents as needed. Donations may be made by scanning the attached QR code.

“We remember after Irma, it meant a lot to be able to go buy what we needed instead of what someone’s giving you,” he said. “It almost brings back a sense of normalcy to be able to go buy something.”

For those who wish to give in other ways, Landry suggested donations to the American Red Cross or direct Amazon shipments of mops, flat-tip shovels, rakes, large trash bags, shampoo, dish soap and laundry detergent to the Knott County Sportsplex.

Though the situation is ever-evolving, the Landrys would “like to stay at least a few more weeks” in the area to continue helping however they can. 

“As long as we can possibly stay and just keep helping,” they said. “People come in and they help for a week or so, and then they go home, but the needs are still here.”

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.