Photo Credit: Kentucky National Guard/AFP via Getty Images
Rescue teams are doubling their efforts to search for hundreds of people declared missing after Kentucky saw massive flooding due to heavy rainfall. According to authorities, many areas are still inaccessible because the floodwater destroyed bridges and wiped out several communities.
Governor Andy Beshear said in a new conference in Frankfort that the death toll is now at 30. “There are hundreds of unaccounted for people, minimum.”
“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 added.
An emotional Beshear faced the media when he talked about the four children confirmed dead in Knott County. “It says ‘minors,'” the governor as he looked at the list. “They are children. The oldest one is in second grade.”
The children’s aunt, Brandi Smith, told reporters that the children died after the mobile home, where the bunch were staying, went heavily flooded. When the water rose, the children sought shelter on the roof.
“They were holding on to them,” Smith said. “The water got so strong it just washed them away.”
According to the governor, it would take weeks of search and rescue to find the missing bodies of several others. “Many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a quarter-mile plus from where they were last,” he added.
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In a lighter note, the governor announced that the cell service is back, which means loved ones can contact their counterparts for updates.
Bridges damaged by flood, more rain to come
The water rose several meters high, dealing destruction to infrastructures like roads, bridges, and residential homes. This caused over 150 individuals being displaced from their homes who are now seeking refuge in state parks.
Power and water infrastructures have also been damaged. The governor said that repair will follow.
Perry county saw innumerable damages due to the flood, with over 50 damaged and inaccessible bridges, reported county Judge Executive Scott Alexander.
“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,” he said.
The National Weather Service said that there is a chance of heavy rains hitting the region in the coming days. This will spell more trouble for the citizens considering the recent happening.
“If things weren’t hard enough on the people in this region, they’re getting rain right now,” said governor Beshear.
Several parts of Kentucky, including those in Jackson, Pikeville, Hazard, Morehead, and West Liberty are under a close flood watch.
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“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. “Areas that see repeated incidents of showers and thunderstorms will be the most susceptible to flash flooding.”
Meanwhile, increasing temperatures will become a bother to the recovering communities. According to forecasts, Wednesday temperatures will reach up to 80 to 90 degrees. Heat indices are expected to float around the 100-degree threshold. This will happen at a time where people are deprived of power because of the damage sustained by power lines.
Need help, resources
Donld Mobelini, mayor of Hazard, Kentucky, said “A lot of these places have never flooded. So if they’ve never flooded, these people will not have flood insurance.”
“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,” he added.
The governor created the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, which will spearhead a fund raising to pay for the funeral expenses of the victims, as well as helping people with their damaged properties. The governor revealed that over $1 million has came in as donation through the organization.