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Kentucky floods kill at least 35 people;  More storm forecasts

Flooding triggered by torrential rains in eastern Kentucky has killed at least 35 people, including four children, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday while warning that more dangerous weather is approaching the area.

Beshear, who said he expected the death toll to rise further, confirmed five more fatalities in an afternoon update after announcing a total of 30 confirmed fatalities in the morning.

Authorities continued to work to rescue residents and provide food and shelter to thousands of displaced people.

“It’s really tough,” Beshear said of the weather forecast in a video posted to social media. “Isolated flash floods and damaging winds are both possible.”

The National Weather Service forecast several rounds of continuous showers and storms through Tuesday. The additional rainfall could also hamper rescue and recovery efforts.

Beshear, who declared a state of emergency last week, said over the weekend authorities would “likely be searching for bodies for weeks” as teams deploy to more remote areas.

Days of heavy rain — described by Beshear as among the worst in state history — washed out some homes in the hardest-hit areas. Video clips posted online showed rescue teams guiding motorboats through residential and commercial areas in search of victims.

The Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team posted footage on Facebook Sunday of a helicopter carrying an 83-year-old woman from a home to safety. A total of five people were trapped in an attic and rescued from the roof of the house, which was nearly submerged in water, the crew said.

ATV riders carry generator fuel and water around a home that was torn from its foundation during flooding and left in the middle of the road along Bowling Creek, Kentucky, July 31, 2022. (Chris Kenning/USA Today Network via Reuters)

At least 16 deaths have been reported in Knott County, including at least four children.

One of those fatalities was Eva Nicole “Nikki” Slone, a 50-year-old woman who ventured into the storm Thursday to check on an elderly friend, according to her daughter, the Chief of the Lexington Herald reported. Slone’s body was found the next day near his home.

“My mother was a very caring woman,” Misty Franklin told the newspaper.

The floods were the second major disaster to hit Kentucky in seven months, following tornadoes that killed nearly 80 people in the western part of the state in December.

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Kentucky on Friday, allowing the allocation of federal funds to the state.

Power lines were extensively damaged, with more than 15,000 reports of outages as of Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.US.

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