Rescuers face more rains as Kentucky flood death toll hits 28 – Manila Bulletin
JACKSON, United States — Rescuers in Kentucky conduct door-to-door searches in deteriorating weather conditions as they prepare for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated eastern the state, the governor said Sunday.
Parts of the mountainous region are still inaccessible following flooding that turned roads into rivers, washed away bridges, swept away homes and killed at least 28 people, state officials said. Poor cell phone service also complicates rescue efforts.
“This is one of the most devastating and deadly floods we’ve seen in our history…And just as we’re trying to dig, it’s raining,” Gov. Andy Beshear told “Meet the Press.” from NBC.
“We are going to work to go door to door, work to find, once again, as many people as possible. We will even work in the rain. But the weather complicates things,” Beshear said.
The death toll in the floods, caused by torrential rains that began on Wednesday, is expected to rise further.
“We’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them sweeping hundreds of yards, maybe over a quarter mile from where they were lost,” Beshear said on “Meet the Press”.
The governor toured flooded areas in three counties on Sunday. In rain-battered areas of the state, more than 350 people are temporarily living in shelters, he said.
In the town of Jackson, the seat of hard-hit Breathitt County, rescue teams and state, local and federal aid workers gathered Sunday morning in a Walmart parking lot as they prepared to deploy.
Some distributed water bottles to people in need. A boat marked “FEMA Rescue 4” sat on a trailer, indicating the presence of federal emergency crews.
The receding floodwaters had left a thick layer of dust on the streets as an ominous dark cloud cover presaged more rain to come.
The floods hit an area of Kentucky that already suffered from crushing poverty — driven by the decline of the coal industry that was central to its economy — taking everything from the people who could least afford it.
“It wiped out areas where people didn’t have much to start with,” Beshear said.
– Threat of further flooding –
Parts of eastern Kentucky reported receiving more than 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
The water level at the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg rose to a staggering 20 feet within hours, well above its previous record high of 14.7 feet.
The National Weather Service’s weather forecasting center warned of the risk of flooding in parts of the United States, including central and eastern Kentucky, through Monday.
“The threat of flash flooding will continue through the afternoon and early evening from showers and thunderstorms with very heavy precipitation rates,” it said in a forecast.
President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky floods, allowing federal assistance to complement state and local recovery efforts.
The eastern Kentucky flood is the latest in a series of extreme weather events that scientists say are a sure sign of climate change.
Nearly 60 people were killed in western Kentucky by a tornado in December 2021 — a disaster that Beshear said offered lessons for current efforts across the state.
“We learned a lot of lessons in Western Kentucky about these devastating tornadoes about seven months ago, so we’re providing as much support as we can and moving quickly from across the state to help,” he said. he told CNN on Saturday.
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