Another round of rainstorms battered flooded mountain communities in Kentucky on Monday as more bodies emerged from the sodden landscape, and the governor warned high winds could bring another threat – downed trees and utility poles .
Governor Andy Beshear said 35 people have already been killed amid rising waters while hundreds more are still missing.
Radar said up to 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) more of rain fell on Sunday, and the National Weather Service warned that downpours and slow-moving thunderstorms could bring more flash flooding through Tuesday morning.
“If things weren’t tough enough for the people of this area, it’s raining right now,” Beshear said in the capital on Monday. “Equally concerning are high winds – think ground saturation – it could topple poles, it could topple trees, so people need to be careful. And it will even get harder when the rain stops. It’s going to get really hot, and we need to make sure people are finally stable at this point.
An approaching heat wave means “it’s even going to get tougher when the rain stops,” the governor said. “It’s going to get really hot, and we have to make sure people are finally stable at this point.”
More than 12,000 customers have been left without power, many because their homes and businesses have been destroyed or are unfit for habitation. At least 300 people were staying in shelters.
The floods were triggered last week when 8 to 10 1/2 inches (20 to 27 centimeters) of rain fell in just 48 hours in parts of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and the West Virginia.
The floodwaters also swept away some of the area’s irreplaceable history. Appalshop, a cultural center known for chronicling Appalachian life, was assessing extensive damage to its depot, where historical documents and artifacts were removed from the building.
At least 15 people have died and officials fear the number will rise after rain hit eastern Kentucky
During a visit to the disaster area on Sunday, Beshear said he saw how people were helping their neighbours.
“They’re amazing people. They’re hurting, but they’re strong. And it’s amazing to see them helping each other, even when they have nothing left,” he said.
About 400 people were rescued by helicopter, according to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the US National Guard Bureau.
“In light of the devastation, the response is going quite well,” he said on Sunday.
The governor canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for later this week, saying he could not travel abroad “while the people of Eastern Kentucky suffer.”
Meanwhile, nightly curfews have been declared in response to reports of looting in two of the devastated communities – Breathitt County and the nearby town of Hindman in Knott County.
Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the United States. Learn what to do if you are caught in the middle of a flash flood.
Breathitt County has declared a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., County Attorney Brendon Miller said in a Facebook post Sunday evening. The only exceptions were for emergency vehicles, first responders and people traveling for work.
“I hate having to impose a curfew, but looting will absolutely not be tolerated. Our friends and neighbors have lost so much. We cannot sit idly by and allow them to lose what they have left,” the post said.
Hindman Mayor Tracy Neice also announced a sunset-to-sunrise curfew due to looting, WYMT TV reported. Both curfews will remain in place until further notice, officials said.
Flooding last week spread to West Virginia, where Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six southern counties, and Virginia, where Governor Glenn Youngkin made a similar statement that allowed officials to mobilize resources in the flooded southwestern part of the state. .
President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster to direct relief funds to flooded counties, and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials assisted with recovery efforts.
Associated Press contributors include Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Mike Pesoli flying with the National Guard and Julie Walker in Washington.