“There will be a lot of people who will need our help,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Frankfurt. “Unfortunately, I expect double-digit deaths in this flood.”
The rains caused untold damage to homes in the central Appalachian part of the state and forced some residents to the rooftops of their flooded homes to wait for help, the governor said.
“Hundreds of people will lose their homes, and this will be yet another event (where) it will take not months, but probably years, for many families to rebuild and recover,” Beshear said during a Thursday morning press conference.
Beshear activated the National Guard to assist with rescues and recovery and declared an emergency to expedite resources to help, he said.
The Guard identified people trapped on rooftops and “prepared to enter and remove them,” state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton said at the morning press conference, without specifying. where these people were.
Videos from various locations showed floodwaters covering roads and engulfing parts of homes and vehicles.
Barbara Wicker was worried about her loved ones in Hindman, including five grandchildren, as water had surrounded their homes, she told Clement in a pre-dawn interview.
“I can’t reach them. I can’t reach 911. … There’s no help in sight,” Wicker told Clement outside Hindman, a Knott County town about 130 miles away. drive southeast of Lexington.
“It goes a long way in there – everyone is stuck,” Kendra Bentley, a resident of Hindman, also near a road outside, told Clement of floodwaters surrounding homes.
Deaths in at least two counties
Of the three people who died from flooding, at least one died in Perry County and one in Knott County, Beshear said.
Another was an 81-year-old woman from Perry County, the governor said, without saying where she died.
The Perry County Coroner’s Office said it was aware of at least one death Thursday morning – that of an 82-year-old woman whose body was found in Coneva after she disappeared.
It was unclear if his death was included in the governor’s three count.
Authorities had to travel half a mile by boat and walk about a mile on foot to reach it, said Jeffrey Combs, Perry County’s deputy chief coroner.
Many county roads are inaccessible, said Combs, who did not release the woman’s name.
The region suffers power and water outages
The National Guard was deploying water-capable helicopters and trucks to deliver supplies and transport people, and Beshear also declared an emergency to help unblock other resources, he said. Fish and wildlife workers were “out with boats, working to make water rescues safe for their staff,” he said.
Rescue areas included a school in Breathitt County, where a few staff members were stranded in an otherwise empty building, Beshear said. The Guard was preparing to rescue them, Lamberton said Thursday morning.
Water service was also interrupted in parts of eastern Kentucky on Thursday, in part because pipes burst during flooding and systems need to be shut down for repairs, Beshear said. Trucks full of water were being sent to the area, he said.
Three state parks will be available to house people who have lost their homes, Beshear said.
Further flooding is possible Thursday, especially in parts of eastern Kentucky – where an additional 1 to 3 inches are possible during the day – southern West Virginia and extreme southwestern Virginia, the weather service said.
“Please stay off the roads”
In the Breathitt County community of Jackson, floodwaters quickly swept through a home in the darkness of Thursday morning, carrying a trash can and other debris with it, video recorded by Deric showed. Lostutter.
“Many county roads are covered in water and impassable. Please stay off the roads if possible tonight,” the message said.
The region’s swollen rivers and streams poured over the land.
The gauge there read 20.91 feet at 10 a.m. Thursday; the previous record was 14.7 feet, set on January 29, 1957. The data is preliminary and will need to be reviewed, as objects can stick to the gauge and give false readings during major floods.
‘Seemingly endless fire hose’ of moisture across much of the US
Recent rains, with more to come, make additional flash flooding likely in parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and central Appalachia over the next two days, the forecast center said.
CNN’s Chris Boyette, Monica Garrett, Sara Smart and Judson Jones contributed to this report