The death toll is expected to continue rising as recovery and rescue efforts continue in eastern Kentucky following this week’s devastating flooding.
As of Saturday, at least 25 people have died as a result of severe storms that caused record floods, mudslides and landslides.
Gov. Andy Beshear had previously said six children were among the dead but reduced the number to four during a news conference early Saturday afternoon after confirming two of the victims were in fact adults.
“I’m concerned that we’ll find bodies in the coming weeks,” Beshear said. “Keep on praying.”
Officials have not yet been able to get an accurate count of the missing people as rescue workers are struggling to get to the hardest-hit areas, some of which are among the poorest places in the country.
The task is complicated by the fact that many affected areas remain without cell service, limiting people’s ability to contact affected loved ones, Beshear said.
More than 700 people have been rescued so far by helicopters and boats from the Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia National Guards and several other agencies helping with the rescue effort, Beshear said.
“Our goal today is to get as many people to safety as possible,” he said, urging people in the affected areas to prepare for more rain in the coming days.
Flood warnings are expected to remain in place in parts of Kentucky through Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
“It’s not fair that it’s going to rain again,” Beshear said. “I don’t want to lose another person.”
Just in the last two days, the affected areas received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches of rain. Still, some waterways were not expected to peak until Saturday.
Around 16,000 electricity customers were left without electricity on Saturday morning, to Kentucky Power.
Fifteen emergency shelters have already been set up in the area to help those affected by the floods, Beshear said.
Federal disaster relief was made available to Kentucky after President Joe Biden issued a declaration of a major disaster. FEMA announced this on Friday.
Federal agency emergency personnel will deploy 18 water trucks to make up for lack of access to water in some areas as high temperatures are expected in Kentucky next week, Beshear said.
Because of the power shortage, 19 water systems are operating at limited capacity, the governor said.
Nearly 27,000 connections are without water as of early Saturday afternoon, according to Beshear. About 29,000 other connections receive unsafe water that must be boiled before consumption.
Beshear stressed that authorities will likely remain in the recovery and rescue phase for several weeks, adding they will have a better idea of damage estimates after the floodwaters have dissipated.
Associated Press contributed.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/death-toll-kentucky-floods-likely-rise-search-efforts-continue-rcna40776 The Kentucky flooding death toll is likely to rise as search efforts continue