Flood fatalities in eastern Kentucky and the public health legacy of mountaintop removal coal mining

W. Jay Christian, Beverly May, Jeffrey E. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heavy rains at night caused severe flooding in eastern Kentucky on 28 July 2022, resulting in 39 deaths. Using publicly available information, we assembled a database of these fatalities, including demographic characteristics and location of death. We perturbed fatality locations and plotted them on a topographical map highlighting mountaintop removal mining with valley fill sites, where mountaintops were excavated to mine thin seams of coal. This map reveals many flood fatalities occurred along rivers or streams near such sites. Previous research suggests that surface mining has contributed to the majority of land cover change in this region, and this has increased storm water runoff. The legacy of coal mining in Central Appalachia could thus present immediate challenges to public health and safety beyond more frequently studied health outcomes associated with occupational and environmental exposures. A review of prior surface mining legislation to assess its effectiveness is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2214159
JournalJournal of Maps
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of Journal of Maps.


  • Appalachia
  • Flood
  • Kentucky
  • coal
  • health
  • mining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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