At least eight people have been confirmed dead Thursday after heavy rain caused massive flooding in eastern Kentucky, leaving people stranded on rooftops and others without power or water as forecasts call for even more rain.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he expects the death toll to rise to double digits, calling it “the most severe and devastating floods” in state history. . He said predicted storms Thursday evening and weekend This means the impacts could worsen, potentially hampering both rescue efforts and power and water restoration work.
“This is an ongoing disaster that continues to put people at risk,” Beshear said Thursday evening. “Our death toll is rising, … and a lot of families there have lost absolutely everything.”
Beshear declared a state of emergency for all of Kentucky, and the National Guard was called in.
“We probably haven’t seen the worst,” Beshear said. “Unfortunately, we think we’re going to lose Kentuckians and a lot of Kentuckians will probably lose most of what they have.”
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Kentucky counties affected by flooding; double-digit death fears
Gen. Hal Lamberton of the Kentucky National Guard said crews were working to rescue people trapped on the roofs of homes. Staff at a school were also blocked, he said.
More than 6 inches of rain fell overnight until Thursday morning, leaving the streets under water. Several inches were expected on Friday and National Weather Service forecasters warned that heavy rain and flooding could continue all weekend long.
Beshear advised people to stay in a safe place, whether with family in a non-flood zone or in a hotel.
In Perry County, 20 people were missing early Thursday, Deputy Sheriff Scott Sandlin said. The region has been hit by major flooding, with several bridges and roads covered in water and other structures destroyed, he said.
An 81-year-old Perry County woman was one of those who died in the flooding, Beshear said. Information on the other seven people who died was not immediately available.
“Guys, I don’t know how much rain Buckhorn can handle,” Marlene Abner Stokely said in a video she posted to Facebook, showing how Squabble Creek overflowed and flooded a historic church in Kentucky. “You can see he’s pretty much taken over.”
In Breathitt County in eastern Kentucky, floodwaters blanketed roads and inundated homes and businesses. A volunteer fire department had to abandon its flooded station, authorities said.
The governor warned drivers against driving through flood waters. He said crews were investigating reports of a large truck with two people inside that may have been swept away.
“I don’t want to lose anyone else,” Beshear said.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell has spoken with Beshear and will travel to Kentucky on Friday to investigate flood damage, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Thursday. .
“Our hearts go out to the people of southern, southwestern Kentucky who are experiencing massive flash flooding that has claimed the lives of several people,” Jean-Pierre said.
President Biden was briefed on the situation, she said, and a FEMA incident management team was dispatched.
Additional rains expected in Kentucky
Several residents and news outlets posted photos and videos on social media early Thursday that show water flooding streets in Buckhorn, Breathitt and Perry counties. Chris Bailey, WKYT’s chief meteorologist, described it as “one of the worst flash flood events to ever hit the state.”
Dustin Jordan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Jackson, said over the past two days at least 6.82 inches of rain fell in Knott County, 7 inches in Perry County and about 7 inches in Breathitt County.
At least 1 to 2 inches of rain were expected between Thursday night and Friday south of Interstate 64, he said. Flash floods were possible in some areas, forecasts To display.
Meteorologists say rainy conditions are expected throughout the weekend and even next weekpossibly leading to more flooding.
Beshear said more than 25,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday afternoon. A relief fund was spear to help those affected.
Contributor: Associated Press