“The forecasts are concerning, and we’re watching them very closely, obviously. We’re also sending out warnings and making sure everyone is aware,” said Col. Jeremy Slinker, Kentucky’s director of emergency management.
“We’re preparing for it and making sure all residents are prepared for it because we just don’t want to lose anyone else or have any more tragedies,” he told Pamela Brown on Saturday. from CNN.
Widespread rain totals of 1 to 3 inches are forecast over the next 24 to 48 hours, but up to 4 or 5 inches are possible in localized areas. As little as 1 to 2 inches can reignite flooding problems, especially in areas already flooded from heavy rains where the ground is saturated.
Twenty-six people have been confirmed dead, Gov. Andy Beshear said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday, in what officials describe as unprecedented flooding for the region. The death toll is expected to rise as crews gain more access to currently impassable areas, Beshear told CNN on Saturday.
“There are still so many people missing,” Beshear said. “It’s going to get worse.”
Officials believe thousands of people have been affected and efforts to rebuild some areas could take years, the governor said. The state’s estimated losses are potentially in the “tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars,” Beshear noted on Saturday.
After the rain, excessive heat is expected to build up in the area on Tuesday as many people are currently struggling with access to clean water, power outages and cell service still unavailable in some counties on Saturday.
“The water is still high in some counties. It’s peaking in most, but not all. The water systems are overwhelmed. So either no water or water that’s not safe, that you have to boil,” Beshear said.
The federal government has sent tractor-trailers of bottled water to the area, and additional financial assistance is on the way.
A ‘hero’ saved his family from a flooded house
Among the tales of heroism emerging from the disaster is an unidentified man who drifted through fast-moving waters to drag a 98-year-old grandmother, her grandson and another family member out of their home as it was almost swallowed by floods on Thursday.
Randy Polly, who witnessed the rescue in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and recorded parts of it on his cell phone, told CNN he got stuck some distance from the house as he was going to the gas station on Thursday morning.
Polly said she heard people shouting from across the flooded road: “Help me, help me.” He called 911, but first responders were overwhelmed and unresponsive to his calls.
At around 9am he saw a man he described as a hero drift towards the house and start knocking on the door and window.
The man eventually helped pull three people out of the house and guided them through the rushing water, the videos show. The rescue took about 30 minutes, Polly said.
Missy Crovetti, who lives in Green Oaks, Illinois, told CNN the rescued people in the video are her grandmother Mae Amburgey, her uncle Larry Amburgey and her brother Gregory Amburgey. They are safe and doing well, she said.
Crovetti said she doesn’t know the name of the man who saved her family. Polly also said he did not know the man’s name.
Ongoing financial assistance
Authorities moved quickly to approve financial aid, given the number of people in need of help after losing everything.
The federal government has given the green light to funding people in five counties “at a rate we’ve never seen before,” Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Saturday.
“Residents will actually be receiving direct payments, which is really good news in what will be a very long tunnel to see the light,” Coleman said.
Coleman did not provide an exact date when those payments should reach residents, although she said they would be dispersed as soon as the state receives the money.
Additionally, nearly $700,000 has been raised for relief efforts, Beshear said Saturday. He noted that the funeral expenses of those killed in the floods will be paid.
“We want these loved ones to be able to reconnect with their family members and that these people can arrange appropriate funerals for their loved ones,” Coleman said.
Additionally, the state is prioritizing the placement of generators in shelters for flood survivors as temperatures are expected to soar Tuesday after the rain.
CNN’s Sharif Paget, Gene Norman, Derek Van Dam, Haley Brink Jalen Beckford, Angela Fritz and Raja Razek contributed to this report.