Kentucky flood death toll reaches 28 as rescuers face more rain

Rescuers in Kentucky are carrying out door-to-door searches in increasingly difficult weather conditions as they prepare for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of the floods that devastated the eastern part of the state, said Governor Sunday.

Parts of the mountainous region are still inaccessible following flooding that turned roads into rivers, washed away bridges, swept away homes and killed at least 28 people, state officials said. Poor cell phone service also complicates rescue efforts.

“This is one of the most devastating and deadly floods we’ve seen in our history. … And just as we’re trying to dig, it’s raining,” Gov. Andy Beshear told “Meet the Press” of NBC.

“We’re going to work to go door-to-door, work to find, again, as many people as we can. We’ll even work in the rain. But the weather complicates things,” Beshear said.

The death toll in the floods, caused by torrential rains that began on Wednesday, is expected to rise further.

“We’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them sweeping hundreds of yards, maybe over a quarter mile from where they were lost,” Beshear said.

The governor toured flooded areas in three counties on Sunday. In rain-battered areas of the state, more than 350 people are temporarily living in shelters, he said.

In the town of Jackson, the seat of hard-hit Breathitt County, state, local and federal rescue teams and aid workers gathered Sunday morning in a Walmart parking lot as they prepared to deploy.

Some distributed water bottles to people in need. A boat marked “FEMA Rescue 4” sat on a trailer, indicating the presence of federal emergency crews.

The receding floodwaters had left a thick layer of dust on the streets as an ominous dark cloud cover presaged more rain to come.

FILE – A flooded area is flown over by a Kentucky National Guard helicopter deployed in response to a declared state of emergency in eastern Kentucky, July 27, 2022. (US Army National Guard/Handout via Reuters)

The floods hit an area of ​​Kentucky that suffered from crushing poverty – driven by the decline of the coal industry that was central to its economy – taking everything from the people who could least afford it.

“It wiped out areas where people didn’t have much to start with,” Beshear said.

Parts of eastern Kentucky had reported receiving more than 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

The water level at the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg rose to a staggering 20 feet within hours, well above its previous record high of 15 feet.

The National Weather Service’s weather forecasting center warned of the risk of flooding in parts of the United States, including central and eastern Kentucky, through Monday.

“The threat of flash flooding will continue through the afternoon and early evening from showers and thunderstorms with very heavy precipitation rates,” it said in a forecast.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky floods, allowing federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

The eastern Kentucky flood is the latest in a series of extreme weather events that scientists say are a sure sign of climate change.

Nearly 60 people were killed in western Kentucky by a tornado in December 2021, a disaster that Beshear says has informed current efforts across the state.

“We learned a lot of lessons in Western Kentucky about these devastating tornadoes about seven months ago, so we’re providing as much support as we can and moving quickly from across the state to help,” he said. he told CNN on Saturday.

USA voanews

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button