Eastern Kentucky: Hundreds still missing after flooding as death toll hits 37

As rescue and recovery teams worked to reach isolated areas on Monday, the number of people confirmed dead in last week’s flooding rose to 37, Governor Andy Beshear said. The death toll is expected to rise.

“We are still looking for people and unfortunately we are still finding these bodies,” Beshear told CNN Monday night.

Rescue efforts have been complicated by swept away infrastructure, officials said. Although cell service is being restored, some areas still lack it, leaving many people unable to contact loved ones or emergency services.

The sweltering heat won’t help. Wednesday will be the driest day of the week, but that will allow temperatures to climb into the 90s. Due to the humidity, it will be near 100 degrees, CNN meteorologists say.

“We still have back roads and county roads that are down, and our bridges are out of service. And so it’s very difficult to get to some of the more remote places,” the lieutenant governor told CNN on Monday. Jacqueline Coleman.

The challenges make it “almost impossible” to get an idea of ​​the exact number of people still missing, Beshear said Monday.

Since they began last week, the floods have devastated several counties and displaced dozens of people from their homes. The heavy flooding wiped homes from their foundations, uprooted entire livelihoods such as farms and businesses, and caused residents catastrophic damage to their properties, vehicles and possessions.

Rescue teams have been battling inclement weather for days as they work to reach trapped residents.

In stunning video, an 83-year-old woman is airlifted to safety by a Blackhawk helicopter in Breathitt County. A rescue team learned she and four other family members were trapped in an attic on Thursday, Wolfe County Search and Rescue spokesperson Drew Stevens told CNN.

The woman was not injured, Stevens said, but a male family member suffered a broken collarbone and was taken to hospital. He has since been released.

A Kentucky Army National Guard helicopter crew investigates flood damage in eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
The disaster also knocked out essential electricity and water services, which repair crews are struggling to restore due to dangerous flood conditions. At least 7,000 customers in eastern Kentucky were still without power early Tuesday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.
More than 25,000 service connections were without water on Monday and another 44,119 were under a boil water advisory, according to governor’s office. Twenty-two water supply systems and 17 sewerage systems were operating at limited capacity, the office said.

The state in mourning after several disasters

The floods are just the most recent disaster to hit Kentucky, which has lost more than 16,000 people to the Covid-19 pandemic and is still recovering from a tornado outbreak which ravaged the state in December, killing more than 70 people.
Two ultra-rare floods in a single week;  a forest fire generating its own weather.  This is how it is connected

Beshear spoke at an event in western Kentucky on Monday for those affected by tornadoes and acknowledged that Kentuckians across the state have been affected by deadly natural disasters.

“The flooding in eastern Kentucky has been tough, and so have these tornadoes,” he said, adding that natural disasters “rip the fabric of who we are.”

“I was at a breaking point the other night because it happens to all of us — it’s okay not to be okay,” Beshear said. “We’re going to get through this because we have to. We have no other choice.”

Resident Louis Turner carries water to friends and family along flood-ravaged Bowling Creek, Kentucky.

The flood death toll spans at least five counties and includes four Knott County siblings who were swept away by the strong current. The children were identified to CNN by their aunt as siblings Chance, 2; Nevaeh, 4 years old; Riley Jr., 6; and Madison, 8.

“I went to the location of what used to be their home yesterday,” Beshear said of the family who lost all four children. “I was standing there in front of what would have been their front door and saw one of the child’s swings in the back. I think the eldest would have been in second grade. They didn’t not even had the same time on this Earth as my children have already enjoyed.”

The governor launched a relief fund for flood victims and those affected, the Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund, which will first be used to pay the funeral expenses of those killed in the disaster. Beshear told CNN that families will not be required to go through an application process to obtain the funeral funds.

CNN’s Michelle Watson, Dakin Andone, Caroll Alvarado, Amy Simonson and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.

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