At least 16 people have died amidst unprecedented flooding that has devastated eastern Kentucky, where the death toll is expected to rise as the rain continues to soak the region.
‘The tough news is 16 confirmed fatalities now, and folks that’s going to get a lot higher,’ Governor Andy Beshear said during a morning news conference. He confirmed that children were among the victims.
Powerful floodwaters , where many small communities will struggle to come back from such sweeping damage.
Massive amounts of water inundated homes and businesses throughout the region, including parts of Virginia and southern West Virginia, where storms have dropped several inches of rain.
Rescue crews backed by the National Guard have flocked to the hardest hit areas, in helicopters and boats, to pick up those trapped by floodwaters. But despite their best efforts, dangerous conditions and persistent rainfall have hampered rescue missions and made it nearly impossible to know how many people remain unaccounted for.
‘We’ve got a lot of people that will need help that we can’t get to at the moment,’ Beshear said.
Emergency crews were still able to make close to 50 air rescues and hundreds of water rescues on Thursday, but much more help will be needed, the governor said.
‘This is not only an ongoing disaster but an ongoing search and rescue. The water is not going to crest in some areas until tomorrow,’ Beshear said.
Over 200 Kentucky residents have moved to various shelters and over 33,000 people are still without power as of Friday morning. On Thursday, residents climbed to the tops of their roofs in order to be rescued. Hundreds of residents have lost everything they have, according to the governor.
Some relief may come Friday night into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, but it won’t last long.
The NWS in Jackson tweeted that the area would see a ‘decent break’ beginning Friday night.
‘More rain and storms arrive Sunday through Tuesday, with heavy rainfall possible Sunday and Monday,’ it said.
Officials predict the damage caused by the onslaught of flooding will take over a year to fully rebuild. President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster in order to send relief money to over a dozen counties in Kentucky.
FEMA has also sent rescue personnel to help in the state’s rescue efforts.
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