At least 16 people are dead and the death toll “sets to be much higher” as torrential rains continue in eastern Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement To update Friday.
Eleven of the deaths, including two children, occurred in Knott County in eastern Kentucky, the governor said.
“To all the families who know you have already suffered a loss, we will grieve with you, we will support you and we will be there for you not just today but tomorrow and the weeks and years to come,” he said Beshear.
Also on Friday, President Joe Biden issued a state disaster declaration and ordered federal aid to be sent to “areas hit by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides,” according to a White House news release.
Beshear said the state conducted around 50 air rescues and hundreds of boat rescues Thursday. So far, 294 people have been rescued and 337 are in shelters, he added.
“This situation is ongoing,” he said. “We are still in search and rescue mode and at least in some areas the water won’t peak until tomorrow.”
Accordingly, rescue teams with the support of the National Guard searched for other missing people on Friday The Associated Press.
“We have volunteers coming in to help,” Jerry Stacy, Perry County’s chief of emergency management, told MSNBC. “That’s going to be our focus, and, you know, we still have people who are missing and we’re doing everything in our power to find them.”
It was unclear how many people were still missing on Friday morning.
The state on Thursday ordered the evacuation of the Panbowl Lake area in eastern Kentucky, where officials fear the dam will rupture.
“We’ve already gone door to door trying to evacuate as many people as they are willing to go,” Beshear said. “If you’re still around, why don’t you find a friend, a relative, someone to stay with, go to a hotel – just go somewhere safe. We don’t want to lose more people than we have to.”
More than 23,000 people in the state are without power and “many counties are without water,” he added.
The state had 2 to 3 inches of rainfall Thursday night and could get the same over the weekend, Beshear said Thursday.
Up to 4 million people in Kentucky, Southern Ohio, West Virginia and Southwest Virginia remain on flood alerts.
Beshear told NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt Thursday that the ongoing flooding was “by far the worst flooding incident” of his life in the state.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/death-toll-increases-15-likely-double-kentucky-floods-governor-says-rcna40620 The death toll from the Kentucky floods rises to 16 and “will get a lot higher,” the governor says