Kentucky : Safety by City
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Hazard, Kentucky, is Ground Zero for the catastrophic flooding in the summer of 2022.
Our thoughts go out to all of the people who lost people and precious memories in this massive onslaught of water.
While our goal on this website is to provide evergreen content for tourists for years to come, as of this publication, the future of Hazard and its adventures are unknown.
Some roads are wiped out.
Many bridges are too unstable to use.
Homes are still sitting downstream of the foundations.
Top tourist attractions are filled with mud from receding floodwaters.
It’s going to be a while before Hazard is a city that isn’t in recovery mode.
Should you visit during this unprecedented time, please offer help, support local businesses, and avoid areas closed off to tourists.
Tucked into the heart of eastern Kentucky Appalachia sits the town of Hazard.
Noted for its outdoor adventures and Mother Goose House, which has watched over the city for nearly a century, this is a place to go if you want to get away from it all.
The small town of 5,300 people has a spirit of its own.
It’s surrounded by rugged terrain and nearly endless miles of trails and scenic drives.
It’s also on the eastern edge of Daniel Boone National Forest’s Redbird Wildlife Management Area.
In 1940, the Mother Goose house was completed by a man who was inspired to build a goose house after a Thanksgiving meal.
In 2021, the weathered goose head collapsed, prompting an immediate call to action for repairs.
The house re-opened later that summer.
It’s one of the most photographed places in all of Kentucky and has appeared on Oprah and HGTV.
Hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking are a way of life here.
If you don’t like the outdoors, you aren’t going to like Hazard very much.
The North Fork of the Kentucky River weaves through town, making for some serene moments but also poising the city for incredible flood risks, as they’ve seen over the years.
The “Queen City of the Mountains” is a royal place to kick back, relax, and enjoy nature with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Warnings & Dangers in Hazard
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Hazard is a city that will be defined for centuries to come as "before" and "after" this recent flooding event. Until further notice, there's a medium risk here just because of all the damage that has been done, the repairs needed, and the water quality concerns. This is no fault of the people in Hazard. In fact, the stories of heroism and help are what really make this tragedy have a silver lining.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There aren't any public buses available here. Taxis and rideshares will be hard to come by for some time. You'll need a car to get around here. Driving in this region is dangerous until the roads and bridges get repaired. Dozens of bridges, especially smaller ones, have been washed away or damaged beyond repair.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The latest crime data available for Hazard is from 2020, with a low risk of being pickpocketed. In fact, 54% of the thefts were shoplifting.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk throughout the year, but - wow - 2020 through 2022 has been really rough in this region with ice storms, flooding, and severe storms that produced tornadoes. You really have to watch the weather closely here. One flood victim said she thought to herself, "That flooding is never going to make it to my house," and six minutes later, her home was washed away. She barely escaped.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, with just three robberies reported. One of those was in public, and the robber got $1500. That's a good reminder to never carry a lot of valuables or cash with you when in public.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The only terror here comes from the weather. There's a low risk of this area being a target of a terror group. It's also far enough away from major population centers that there isn't even a risk of a residual effect.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scam to worry about going forward from 2022 is fundraising for flood victims. Sadly, scammers love to prey on people's kindness during tragedies. The state of Kentucky has set up a legitimate fundraising account, and the Red Cross is also accepting donations.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for women by the crime data, as men are more commonly victims of crime. However, you do need to be an "outdoor girl" to enjoy your time here. There are a lot of natural risks that can raise safety concerns if you aren't skilled at outdoor survival.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
It will be a while before the low water quality risk is restored here. On top of that, even before the floods, the city hadn't published a Water Quality Report in two years. Unless you are 100% sure the water here is safe to drink, bring bottled water.
Safest Places to Visit in Hazard
The Mother Goose House is a great place to take a gander.
(GET IT? Take a GANDER?)
Paradise Pizza recently opened next door, so you can get a great meal while enjoying the view.
Be sure to take pictures and post them on social media because the Mother Goose House is very popular and will get a lot of interaction.
The Bobby Davis House Museum and Park is probably the second most popular stop in Hazard.
The museum is dedicated to the heroes of World War II.
You can get a glimpse of Perry County’s history and attend one of many events throughout the year, whether it’s playing games inside or enjoying a party in the garden.
Check the website for events happening around your trip.
The River Arts Greenway Project runs along the banks of the Kentucky River.
There are murals and sculptures to see and a peace garden calling for “Peace on Earth” throughout the years to come.
The Redbird Wildlife Management Area is one of the big draws for people in Hazard.
This is just one section of the 708,000 acres of Daniel Boone National Forest.
For example, you can be in the Redbird Ranger District in 30 minutes, but you’ll have to drive more than two hours to get to the Natural Arches area of the park.
Hunting and fishing are popular in Redbird, and there are more trails than you could arguably do in a week’s vacation.
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park is a great place for outdoor lovers who want to have more amenities.
There’s a museum on site, a dedicated beach for swimmers, and a restaurant with sweeping views of the mountains.
Don’t miss the Church Log Cathedral while you’re here.
As of August 2022, the entire resort is housing flood victims, so call ahead to see if rooms are available closer to your visit.
Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park and Campground prides itself on being a family-friendly camping location.
There are ATVs and horse trails throughout the park.
Hikers might come across elk antlers that were shed by the animals, with the most likely time to find them between January and April.
Places to Avoid in Hazard
In a normal year, there isn’t a part of Hazard that is too dangerous to visit or a “bad neighborhood.”
Unfortunately, it will be a while before Hazard sees anything close to normal.
If you are reviewing this article as a potential volunteer to help with the flood recovery, be sure to get a tetanus shot before you go, as floodwaters can be contaminated.
Contact Perry County or the state of Kentucky for where you can best help at any given time.
You want to ensure your assistance is used in the best way possible.
There is a volunteer form you can fill out on the Hazard Facebook page, @cityofhazard.
If you are visiting here for fun, avoid doing anything that looks like you are making a disaster area your own tourist attraction.
Yes, it’s natural to WANT to see places that have been devastated because of our morbid human curiosity, but this is a town where everyone knows everyone.
Losing a family member to flooding impacts the whole community.
People lost everything they had in a few minutes of terror, and some were stranded in their homes or neighborhoods for days without a way to get out.
Even the mud was too thick to walk across.
For those stopping by on a road trip, shop locally wherever possible.
The city was already hit hard by the pandemic.
On top of that, it’s a region known for being poorer than much of the country.
Any little bit helps.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hazard
- Bring cases of bottled water with you for the near future, and even if you are reading this into 2023, bring at least one case of water. Some water pipes were fully washed away. There is an onslaught of repairs that will take years to complete.
- Review the Daniel Boone National Forest website for road closures. Some roads are closed to everyone. Others are open but with strong warnings.
- Parking might be difficult in this area because some parking lots were washed away in the flooding. Never park on the side of the road or in a muddy area in a rush. You should bring sturdy walking shoes because you might be walking a long distance, even within the city limits.
- There is a community crime map on the Hazard Police Department website where you can see the crimes that have happened within whatever time frame you wish to search. While it might not be as updated as it normally would be, it’s worth reviewing to get a better idea of crime trends happening closer to your visit.
- Notwithstanding the flood of 2022, this area is prone to flooding, and you should review the emergency management plan on the Perry County website. There is also a Flood Hazard Portal to see which areas will flood first. Search for weather conditions using #kywx. You can also post your own photos using that hashtag if you come across any kind of weather issue.
- Sign up for a Nixle account. This is a tool law enforcement uses to send out emergency information, from criminal activity to weather alerts to hazmat situations to road closures. Nixle is used by media outlets to report the news, so you’ll get the information at the same time as the local news station or newspaper.
- Summers can bring heat waves that are extremely dangerous. It’s not uncommon for the “heat index” (which is the “feels like” temperature) to reach 110°(F). It’s also very humid here, so you’ll sweat a lot. Bring an electrolyte-based drink like Gatorade or a powder packet like “Liquid IV” to restore the nutrients lost in your sweat.
- You need a fishing and/or hunting license from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife if you want to participate in those activities. This region has an Elk Hunting Lottery each year, so review the details of how to get in the running for that. You cannot use a license from your home state or country.
- Winter visitors need to keep an eye out for slick spots on roadways, especially if a recent winter storm has hit. The “black ice” on roads can be hard to see and cause street spinouts. As if that isn’t dangerous enough, there are many places in Perry County where the roads are just two-lane and winding, risking a car going over an embankment or down into a ditch. If there is an ice storm about to happen, please avoid the area. Ice can weigh down branches on trees, creating a constant risk and also knocking out power.
- You will have difficulty getting mobile phone service throughout much of this region. Your mobile provider should have a map showing the hot spots and dead zones in this area, so review that before you go. When going into the wilderness, don’t rely on your phone for anything. Bring a paper map (ideally with a waterproof cover) and a compass.
So... How Safe Is Hazard Really?
The crime data from 2020 shows there’s an average or above average risk when it comes to violent and property crimes.
The only point of consideration in that statement is that the FBI provides data “per 100,000.”
That means in very small towns, like Hazard, the numbers can appear skewed.
For example, there were three robberies in 2020, but when you figure that out “per 100,000,” the number is 56.
While that’s still below the national average, it sounds much higher than it really is.
It would just take two more robberies in that year to push the risk over the national average.
Car break-ins account for 10% of the thefts here.
Shoplifting is the largest category at 54% of all thefts.
You should also keep track of items at your campsite or outdoor stopping point because thieves can grab backpacks, fishing poles, or anything else that isn’t nailed down.
It’s a good idea to study the Emergency Management website page for Perry County.
Every weather risk is addressed there with ideas for “safety kits” and preparedness information.
You don’t want to be caught outside in a severe thunderstorm, so adjust your plans if there is storm potential on any given day.
How Does Hazard Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work visa to get into the United States, and that's quite a process, so start planning several months ahead of time. Once you are in the country, you can travel freely without having to show your visa, so pack it somewhere safe and secure.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and it's wise to bring some cash with you. Just be sure to exchange currency at the airport or in a much bigger city. Don't carry all your money in one spot. I always liked to use the spare tire well to store extra cash when traveling by car. You can also bring a fire-safe box with a lock.
- Weather - You should always have a waterproof outer layer when visiting here and boots that are broken in before you go. Bring a mix of tank tops, t-shirts, and hoodies for fluctuating temperatures. Bug spray is very much needed here and should be used often.
- Airports - Since Hazard is such a remote town, you'll be on the road for 2-3 hours to get to a commercial airport. You have choices in Lexington, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee. A smaller airport in the tri-cities area is available, and the airport's location is Blountville, Tennessee.
- Travel Insurance - You definitely want travel insurance that covers your flights, your health, and your rental vehicle. There is just too much risk here to travel without it.
Hazard Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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