Rescue teams redouble their efforts to search for hundreds of missing people after Kentucky saw massive floods caused by torrential rain. According to authorities, many areas remain inaccessible as floods have destroyed bridges and wiped out several communities.
Governor Andy Beshear said at a conference in Frankfurt that the death toll is now 30. “There are at least hundreds of people missing.”
“We just don’t have a firm grasp on that. I wish we did — there are a lot of reasons why it’s nearly impossible,” the governor said.
An emotional Beshear faced the media as he spoke about the four children confirmed dead in Knott County. “It says ‘minors’ [here],” the governor said, referring to the list he had held. “They are children. The oldest is in second grade.”
The children’s aunt, Brandi Smith, told reporters that the children died after the mobile home they were staying in was heavily flooded. When the water rose, the children took refuge on the roof.
“They were holding on to them,” Smith recalled. “The water got so strong it just washed them away.”
The governor estimated that it would take weeks of search and rescue efforts to locate the bodies of several other people who went missing. “Many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a quarter-mile plus from where they were last,” Beshear stated.
On a lighter note, the governor announced that cell service is back, meaning loved ones can contact their relatives for updates.
Many infrastructures were damaged, more rain
Water has increased by several meters and damaged infrastructures such as streets, bridges and houses. As a result, more than 150 people were displaced from their homes and are now looking for refuge in state parks.
Infrastructure for power and water has also been damaged. The governor stated that repairs would be made.
Perry County suffered countless flood damage, with more than 50 bridges damaged which had made it inaccessible to people, County Executive Judge Scott Alexander said.
“What that means is there’s somebody living on the other side or multiple families living up our holler on the other side that we’re still not able to have road access to,” the judge said.
According to the National Weather Service, heavy rains are possible in the region in the coming days. This will create further inconvenience for the citizens due to the recent incident.
“If things weren’t hard enough on the people in this region, they’re getting rain right now,” Governor Beshear said.
Meanwhile, various areas of Kentucky, including Jackson, Pikeville, Hazard, Morehead, and West Liberty, are under a close flood watch.
“Showers and thunderstorms containing rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour, at times, will result in the potential for flash flooding through noon,” said the Jackson weather service office in a statement. “Areas that see repeated incidents of showers and thunderstorms will be the most susceptible to flash flooding.”
Meanwhile, rising temperatures will cause problems for the recovering communities. Temperatures are expected to reach 80 to 90 degrees on Wednesday. Heat indices are expected to hover near the 100-degree mark. This will occur during a period when people will be without power due to damage to power lines.
Resources are needed by communities
“A lot of these places have never flooded. So if they’ve never flooded, these people will not have flood insurance,” said Donald Mobelini, mayor of Hazard, Kentucky.
“If they lose their home, it’s total loss. There’s not going to be an insurance check coming to help that. We need cash donations,” Mayor Mobelini added.
The governor established the Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund to raise funds for funerals and to assist those whose property was damaged. The governor said that over a million dollars had been donated through the organization.