Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday morning that the death toll has risen to 15 after torrential rains flooded Eastern Kentucky, destroying hundreds of homes and wiping out entire communities.
Search and rescue teams, with the help of the National Guard, were searching for missing people Friday after record floods washed through the region. The governor declared a state of emergency.
kiss, in a video posted to Twittersaid children were likely to be included in the death count and that the number is expected to grow to “probably more than double.”
“We know some of the loss will include children,” Beshear said. “We may have even lost entire families.”
More rain was expected Friday and into the weekend after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some counties Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Brandon Bonds with the National Weather Service in Jackson said it won’t take much more rain to “cause even more damage.” A flood watch or warning was expected to stay in effect for many of the areas that saw the worst of the flooding.
“We’re anticipating for more storms to develop going into the weekend,” he said Thursday afternoon.
‘Not seen the worst of it’:Death toll likely to rise in Eastern Kentucky flooding
Here’s what we know about the flooding, rescue efforts and more.
Gov. Beshear: Number of missing ‘tough’ to estimate
Beshear on Friday morning said it would be “tough” to determine the number of people who are unaccounted for because cell service and electricity were out across the region.
More than 200 people have sought shelter, Beshear said. The National Guard has mobilized.
“In a word, this event is devastating, and I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time,” Beshear said Thursday.
On Friday morning, Beshear said the state completed hundreds of rescues, with about 50 air rescues and hundreds of boat rescues. The flooding has left over 23,000 Kentuckians without power and several counties without access to water, Beshear said.
While rain was reported in several areas around the state, the flooding took place in Eastern Kentucky, in counties near the border with Virginia and West Virginia.
Towns and cities reported having been hit the hardest are Hazard, Jackson, Garrett, Salyersville, Booneville, Whitesburg and the rest of Perry County.
The stretch of the Kentucky River in Jackson reached the highest it has ever been, at 43.2 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson as of 6 am Friday. That mark broke a record set in 1939 when the height of the river reached 43.1 feet.
Beshear asked people who are able to contribute to donate items or funds. Donors should focus on water and cleaning supplies for now.
Organizations have begun to accrue funds needed to send to those families hit hardest by the flooding.