The Kentucky floods were devastating. Timing is a big reason, one expert said

A historic deluge that hit eastern Kentucky last week was so devastating because it inundated the region when people slept — and because precipitation rates and locations are difficult to pinpoint until the downpour hits, the state’s climatologist said.

“The biggest danger that came with this flooding was that most of the rain happened very quickly, very heavily, and overnight,” said Megan Shargorodski, who is also director of the Kentucky Climate Center at Western Kentucky University.

A couple moves belongings away from flood water
A couple carry belongings from their home Thursday in Jackson, Kentucky to save them from flooding of the Kentucky River.Leandro Lozada/AFP via Getty Images

As of Monday, 37 people had died in the floods and “so many more” are still missing. Gov. Andy Beshear said.

Let’s pray for these families and come together to embrace our countrymen from Kentucky,” he said.

The region’s geography contributed to this devastation, with the complex terrain of the Appalachian Mountains causing waterways and low-lying areas to flood quickly, Shargorodsky said.

“Many routes are closed due to flooding, and it can sometimes be even more dangerous to evacuate them,” she said.

Unlike mass evacuations, which can happen days before a hurricane hits, people in eastern Kentucky find it less possible to leave the country if they don’t know when and where the flooding will occur.

Many in the region, with its rising poverty rates, are also unable to flee even if they want to, she said.

Still, Shargorodsky said that before the deluge, forecasters had correctly expected significant rainfall across much of the eastern part of the state.

Updated information has been released by the National Weather Service and on social media Kentucky Emergency Management Officials using Twitter and Facebook. Weather Service offices in Kentucky, along with state emergency officials, began issuing flood warnings no later than July 25.

Susan Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service, said in an email that its forecasts have been expanded to include not only what the weather will do, but how it will affect people.

The agency provides briefings to local officials, and forecasters often work with emergency managers on weather events, Buchanan said.

“While we provide expected impacts, we do not provide advice for decision making,” she said.

Some of the hardest-hit counties weren’t used to communicating through social media, which could leave some residents without the latest information on the storm.

Kentucky Emergency Management Lists “Country Directors” for local emergency services and links to local websites for more specific information. But in Knott County, where Gov. Andy Beshear said at least 15 people have died, the link goes to a page that “doesn’t exist.”

Its online presence includes a Canadian registered .com trading site which has only an address and phone number for “emergency management”. There are also third-party pages and websites, e.g. B. one hosted by countyoffice.orgwith some county and emergency information.

The agency’s phone number didn’t appear to be working Monday, and a message sent to its Facebook page wasn’t bounced back.

Attempts to reach the Knott County Sheriff’s Office were also unsuccessful.

Dropped water levels of the Kentucky River surround a truck
Dropped water levels in the Kentucky River surrounded a truck in Jackson, Kentucky on Saturday.Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Still, Missy Bush, a Knott County resident, said officials warned the community “through every avenue available to them.”

“They were warning about this system and about flooding, and a lot of people were getting emergency alerts on their phones,” Bush, 40, said via Facebook Messenger.

“But because of the night time when it started and how quickly the water was rising, a lot of people in areas that had never been flooded before saw water and went to collect a few things and go,” she said.

They returned to a half-submerged vehicle, she said.

“I really don’t know of any other warnings that would have helped,” she added.

In nearby Letcher County, Chloe Adams had no idea flood warnings had been issued over much of their state.

Adams, 17, woke up at 5 a.m. Thursday to gurgling noises in her father’s double-wide trailer in Whitesburg to find dirty water gushing from every drain.

The water in the trailer quickly rose as Adams — who was home alone and whose father worked in Lexington — tried to work out an escape plan with her dog, an 11-year-old mutt named Sandy, which she had taken a decade to come up with.

“All I know was I had only two choices here, we stay indoors and drown or I take my risk swimming to safety,” she said in a text message to NBC News. “I knew the dangers of trying to swim in deep water, but I felt I had no other choice.”

She put the dog and a sofa cushion in a plastic drawer and dove into cold, fast-moving water, hoping to make it onto the roof of a nearby storage building.

“Somehow, by the grace of God, Sandy and I made it,” she said.

Chloe Adams is sitting on the roof of a warehouse
Chloe Adams sits on the roof of a warehouse with her dog Sandy as she waits to be rescued after floods in Whitesburg, Kentucky.Terry Adams Sr. via Facebook

They stayed there for several hours, waiting to be rescued, she said. Eventually, she said, her cousin arrived in a kayak and paddled the couple to safety.

When asked if authorities could have done more to alert her and others to the catastrophic flooding, she said she believes authorities did their job “perfectly.”

“They did all their alerts and newscasts but I don’t watch the news and my phone was charging in another room when all the alerts went off,” she said. “Besides, I was sleeping.” The Kentucky floods were devastating. Timing is a big reason, one expert said

Fry Electronics Team

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