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Homeless Woman Living on Riverbank is Praying for a Miracle


Homeless Woman Living on Riverbank in Lewisport is Praying for a Miracle

At the Lewisport City Council Meeting last week, one of the council members asked about a woman who has been living in a tent on the riverbank.  Lewisport Police Chief Greg Linn was in attendance at the meeting and said he had checked on her. “My understanding is, she had went and stayed with some other people during that real cold spell,” Linn said. “She had lived in an apartment here in town and then got evicted.”

The Hancock Clarion learned the woman is Melissa Popham, and had an interview with Popham just a few days later.  Melissa is 52-years-old and originally from Meade County. In the following paragraphs, she explains how she became homeless in what she calls, “a series of unfortunate events.”

“I came to Owensboro in July, 2 years ago, and went to rehab for alcoholism and methamphetamine use,” Melissa said. “From there I went to OASIS (Owensboro Area Shelter and Information Services) to the domestic violence shelter to live after rehab.”

She said she stopped using methamphetamine on June 18th, 2021 and then went to rehab on July 5th. “I was already off of methamphetamine when I came to rehab but I was drinking everyday,” Melissa said. “My oldest daughter, she’s 31, she encouraged me to. She said, ‘Mom, you need to go down there and they’ll help you get yourself established and get on your feet.’

I went there. I got a job. They put me in a transitional home, helped me get into an apartment here in Lewisport, and they paid my rent and my electricity. I was still working.”

After a time she lost her job, and then she lost her car. “I was driving home from my friend’s house (in Meade County),” she said. “I ran out of gas not very far from here. I took off walking and some people picked me up and brought me home. The next morning I got up and asked my landlord if he would take me to go pick my car up. My car couldn’t be found and it was up there at the impound lot (Bob’s Towing & Recovery).”

Melissa had purchased the car through a finance company in Owensboro and had been paying on it for over a year. When she lost her job she missed one payment and the company had placed a lean on it. It was impounded and then because she didn’t have the money to get it out, after a few months the finance company had it picked up by a salvage company.

Melissa said her landlord had reached out to her counselor through OASIS to let her know about the situation and see if there was assistance available to help her get her car back.

“She (the counselor) said she had $500 for me to fix my vehicle and said they’d have some more money for me,” Melissa said. “She said she was going to get a phone and bring it to me.”

“I was talking to her on the phone and she said, ‘Here’s your options, you can move back to Owensboro and we’ll find you an apartment there, or you can go to rehab, or you can come back to the shelter, or you can go to the homeless shelter.’

I’m clean and sober. I don’t need rehab and I didn’t really want to go back to the shelter. There were no beds available at the homeless shelter. I thought I’d get an apartment in Owensboro and I could ride the bus. Or, I had a bicycle at the time, I could ride my bicycle to work.”

Melissa says that, after that, she didn’t hear back from the counselor again. “My landlord brought me a letter and it said that after October the first, OASIS would no longer pay my rent.

So no job, no car and no way to pay my rent. My landlord said I could stay there until my deposit was depleted. It was $500. Then, he couldn’t just let me stay there rent-free so on October 26th, this past October, police come knockin’ on the door and said they had the order for me to vacate and I had 15 minutes to gather up as much stuff as I could carry and I had to vacate the premises so that’s what I did.

I don’t have any family that I could just move in with. I could go back to Payneville and there are people that would let me stay with them, but I don’t want to get back into drugs. Today I’m 2 years and 9 months clean. Right now, waiting on the Lord is all I can do.”

When she was evicted from her apartment, she said she decided to go to the river because it is a public place. “I figured if I got ahold of one of my family members, the Lewisport boat docks would be the easiest place to find me,” she said.

The first night she slept on the riverbank, Melissa said she only had an afghan and managed to find a large garbage bag to sleep inside of in order to stay dry. “And then I found a big ole huge raft and I grabbed it up. It was big enough that I could lay on it and pull it over top of me,” she said. “Since it’s flooded, it’s changed a bit but there were trees up and it was kind of like a cave and I got up inside there. I never did get wet.”

The large rubber raft was her makeshift tent for about a month. She used a garbage bag for a door. She woke up one morning to water flooding in and has continued to move her camp to higher ground accordingly. Because of the rising water level, she now makes her camp further up on the riverbank.

Workers who operate the dredging machine across the river park (near where she’s camped) in order to catch the boat to work every morning, and one of the workers decided to come over one day and give Melissa a blanket, a pillow and 2 sleeping bags. Then he came back and brought her a tent. “Boy oh boy, am I grateful for that tent because of all this rain – I stay dry,” she said.

After awhile, a married couple from French Lick were rock hunting in the area and met Melissa. They gave her more sleeping bags and have been bringing her things she needs once a week. “I have 5 sleeping bags total,” she said. “I get inside two of them and the rest of them I put over top of me. They gave me one of those Army arctic ones. They’ve been so wonderful to me. They’re great. They bring me food and dog food for my dog.

They bring me soups. They gave me another frying pan and a sauce pan. They have been tremendous taking care of me. They also gave me a Coleman stove with fuel and a burner. In the morning, instead of a fire, I’ve been using it and getting some water heated in a sauce pan to make me some coffee or soups.”

She said she may still have another month of food stamps and walks to the Dollar Store to purchase easy to cook foods.  She said it is difficult and heavy to carry water that far, and the couple from out of town who’ve been helping her, have also been bringing her water.

Melissa said she wants to get a job locally. Until she’s able to save and get another vehicle, she needs to be able to walk to and from work. However, it has been very challenging for her to clean up properly in order to go and apply for jobs. The only public showers nearby are at Jumpin’ Jacks for 8 dollars per shower, and she can’t afford it. She has been living on the river for 4 months now. “Some days are better than others,” she said. “I just know that the Lord’s going to get me out of this situation.”

NOTE:  For more information on how you can help this lady, please call Julie Newton, Director of the Hancock County Help office: 270-922-7580.

By Jennifer Wimmer



  1. Brenda Conner on February 22, 2023 at 9:34 pm

    Come to the Oaks Personal Care Home and talk to me. I will try to help you with a job if I can.

    • Ron on February 24, 2023 at 6:55 pm

      Girl you have my blessings, I kinda have been in your situation, may God bless you girl

      • P. Hill on February 26, 2023 at 9:36 am

        What a strong woman you are and I know you have faith, knowing that God will help you through this time time in your life. My heart goes out to you and I wish I could help you and I will by praying that God would help you out of the situation you are in.
        I know praying for a miracle is the only way, you see i know this because my husband needed a miracle and received it as well as meeting his Angel in person. A
        long story short, never give up on God and keep the
        faith because you’re miracle will come but only in his
        time. We will be praying and in the meantime know
        that you are loved and will be thought of often.

  2. Rita Prunes on February 22, 2023 at 9:35 pm

    Praying God will send someone with a job and a place to live !

    • Gloria Word on February 23, 2023 at 9:35 pm

      I live in Henderson I have a extra bedroom. She welcome. I can help get on at Walmart 3rd shift.

      • Linda on February 24, 2023 at 6:26 am

        Please call Julie Newton, Director of the Hancock County Help office: 270-922-7580.

  3. Cameron Whorley on February 23, 2023 at 7:43 am

    Prayers Going Up
    Stay Strong and Never Give Up

  4. Patricia Rhoads on February 23, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t understand how her kid lets her live on the riverbank. Does she have a cash app? I’d like to send her some money.

    • Linda on February 23, 2023 at 1:54 pm

      Please contact Julie Newton with Hancock County Health Office . 270-922-8580

  5. Arod on February 23, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    There are to many holes in this story, like why did she lose her job? She was still in an apartment after losing her job for a time. Why did she not get another job? God helps those that help themselves, I don’t see where she’s trying to help herself. There are so many homeless people her story is like so many others

  6. Susan Burns on February 24, 2023 at 7:51 am

    God said judge not or you shall be judge. The Lady has been through a lot, it’s not easy being a female and being homeless, people try to take advantage of females more. I pray the Lady gets the help she needs. I wish her the best.

  7. Melissa carter on February 24, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Arod don’t be judging .If you haven’t walked in her shoes.This lady needs help if you can’t or don’t want to help her than carry on but don’t be on here talking sma ck about something u don’t know .

  8. Rita Williams on February 24, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    You never know what kind of trauma a person has been through to cause them to end up where they are. Yes sometimes it’s drugs, alcohol etc but lots of times there’s a combination of things and maybe some runs of bad timing or whatever, mental conditions and so on but many times there are numerous things involved and often trauma is in the middle of that list of items.

  9. Betty Smith on February 24, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    I’m praying for her 💕
    I live in Louisville KY
    & I’m 66yrs old,
    I’m on SSDI,
    I know what she is going through ‼️

  10. Rhonda on February 25, 2023 at 1:15 am

    Melissa God will find u peace and happiness u keep your head up and who ever is judging her what about spread some love and hope and courage unstead of being hateful disrespectful that’s just rude

  11. Everett west on February 27, 2023 at 8:36 am

    It is very hard to stay afloat.even owning a car. You still have to pay title tags and insurance and if your credit’s not up to snuff your insurance is going to be even higher and with the gas prices these days it’s hard to make it. And it don’t even have to be drug related. I myself was diagnosed with aggressive stage 4 metastatic cancer .no remission .SSI pays me $914 a mouth paying rent insurance food electric and water 900 isn’t squat. It’s not hard to be homeless these days. It’s hard just being an American . I’m a 55 year old white male one step away from being homeless.

  12. Lisa wallis on February 28, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    Hi I can feel what ur going through, me and my husband and our two boys are working hard and I also door-dash. We had to sale our trailer and the money we got for it went to a hotel cuz we were looking for a place to live and couldn’t have our dogs, we have two of them so we blew $9,000 in 6 months for my dogs to stay somewhere because I have no family for them to go to and I can’t see getting rid of them, it would kill my kids so then we got a loan for a house and now it got sold from under us, so now we work hard and I door-dash and my kids and my husband and me are staying at Budget Inn Suites cuz it’s cheaper, but not really it’s $420 a week. I went to try to get food stamps, they gave them to me but the lady there said she didn’t understand how we paid $420 a week when I can get a house for that much. How can you do that and try to save money and have a roof over our head and food in our bellies, it’s not very easy so I understand what she is going through. Like I made enough to stay one more night so every day we try to make up enough money for the house that we’re supposed to be getting here shortly, so how do you survive and try to save up money for a down payment and the months rent. I just don’t know, I’ll leave it to my higher power which is Jesus and I pray to him everyday and I make my kids and my husband pray. He’s giving us many of Miracles. I believe in them I just don’t want to use up all my angels. I wish you the best honey, I really do. You can make it. Me and my kids and my husband have been without a place for 8 months now so I wish you the best here and you can do it, you can. I’ve been in and out of hospitals because I have diabetes. My kids are only 15 and 14, can you imagine what they’re going through not knowing where they’re going to lay their heads down again, so I understand and my two dogs that I can’t get rid of I wish you the best.

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