But reaching the missing is not the only challenge. Many people known to have survived are still stranded due to washed out roads – and there is a desperate need to deliver the supplies they need or move them, said a resident of flood-hit Knott County.
“I still have aunts and uncles who are stuck screaming. They’re diabetics. They need insulin,” Knott County resident Zack Hall told CNN Tuesday morning.
“I went to visit one yesterday – I was lucky enough to get up there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there was no road…and that’s what people must understand is that the infrastructure here is completely destroyed and that makes relief efforts “difficult”, Hall said.
At least 37 people have died in the flooding, Governor Andy Beshear said Monday. Flooding began Thursday morning with heavy rain in areas already saturated from previous rainy days. 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.
Efforts to reach those stranded have been complicated by washed-out infrastructure, officials say. 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 power and water outages are especially troubling for those who are stranded and don’t have easy access to supplies, said Hall, the Knott County resident.
“With the heat, once it’s dry for the day, it’s just heavy, humid. … A lot of people on oxygen who don’t have electricity are already struggling,” Hall said. “I think the worst is yet to come if we are not able to clear paths and reach these people.”
More people with utility all-terrain vehicles are needed to help in the area, he said.
“If they can just come and help us, help us move things, help us clear paths, help us get water, food, medicine to people. (And) get people out who want to leave the area – we just need as many hands on deck as we can get,” Hall said.
Road issues make it difficult to know how many people are missing, governor says
Infrastructure issues 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, including farms and businesses, and caused residents catastrophic damage to their properties, vehicles and belongings.
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.
The state in mourning after several disasters
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.”
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.”
CNN’s Michelle Watson, Dakin Andone, Caroll Alvarado, Amy Simonson and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.