Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday morning the death toll rose 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 looking for missing people on Friday after record flooding swept through the area. The governor declared a state of emergency.
beshear, in a video posted on Twittersaid children were likely included in the death count and the number is expected to rise to “probably more than double”.
“We know part of the loss will include children,” Beshear said. “We may even have 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 through Thursday. National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Bonds in Jackson said it wouldn’t take much more rain to “cause even more damage.” A flood watch or warning was to remain in effect for many areas that saw the worst flooding.
“We expect more storms to develop into the weekend,” he said Thursday afternoon.
‘Not seen the worst’:Death toll expected to rise in eastern Kentucky floods
Here’s what we know about the floods, rescue efforts and more.
Govt. Beshear: number of “difficult” missing to estimate
Beshear said Friday morning that it would be “difficult” to determine the number of people missing because cell service and electricity were out in the area.
More than 200 people sought refuge, Beshear said. The National Guard mobilized.
“In a nutshell, this event is devastating, and I believe it will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods we’ve had in Kentucky in at least a very long time,” Beshear said Thursday.
As of Friday morning, Beshear said the state had carried out hundreds of rescues, with about 50 air rescues and hundreds of boat rescues. The flooding left more than 23,000 Kentuckians without power and several counties without access to water, Beshear said.
While rains were reported in several parts of the state, flooding occurred in eastern Kentucky in counties near the border with Virginia and West Virginia.
The cities and towns that have been hardest hit include Hazard, Jackson, Garrett, Salyersville, Booneville, Whitesburg and the rest of Perry County.
The stretch of the Kentucky River in Jackson reached its highest level, at 43.2 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson at 6 a.m. Friday. This mark broke a record set in 1939 when the river’s height reached 43.1 feet.
Beshear has asked people able to contribute to donate items or funds. Donors should focus on water and cleaning supplies for now.
Organizations have started accumulating the funds needed to send them to the families hardest hit by the floods.