Kentucky floods: Death toll rises to 30 as governor says hundreds still missing

The death toll rose on Monday to 30, Governor Andy Bashir told a news conference in Frankfurt, adding, “There are hundreds of people unaccounted for, at least.”

“We don’t have a solid understanding of it,” he said. “I wish we did – there are a lot of reasons why it’s nearly impossible.”

While reading details of the dead in each county during a news conference on Sunday, Bashir became visibly emotional when he reached out to the four children killed in Nott County. They were identified to CNN by their aunt as Chance’s siblings, 2; Nafai: 4 years. Riley Jr., 6 years old; and Madison, 8.

“It says ‘minors,'” the governor said, looking at the list. “They are children,” Bashir said. The eldest is in the second grade.

This photo shows four siblings from Knott County, Kentucky, who died in floods last week.  Running clockwise, beginning at top left, shows Madison, 8;  Riley Jr., 6 years old;  Chance 2 and Spring 4.

The children – who were described as sweet, funny and loving – died after the family’s mobile home was inundated last week, their aunt Brandi Smith told CNN on Friday, forcing them to seek rooftop shelter.

“They just stick with them,” Smith said of her sister and partner. “The water became so strong that it swept them away.”

The governor believes that rescue crews will “find the bodies for weeks,” as he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “many of them traversed hundreds of meters, perhaps a quarter of a mile, from where they were last.”

There was some good news Monday: Cellular service is back in some of the hardest-hit areas of the state, the governor said, which could help people connect with loved ones they haven’t yet contacted.

50 bridges destroyed in Berry County, with more rain forecast

The governor said the floods swelled roads, destroyed bridges and washed away entire homes, displacing thousands of Kentuckians. On Monday, he said, at least 150 displaced people are being housed in state parks.

The floodwaters have also destroyed vital energy, water infrastructure and roads, some of which have yet to be restored.

In Perry County, as many as 50 bridges have been damaged and inaccessible, according to Executive County Judge Scott Alexander.

“What this means is that there is someone living on the other side or several families living in our rock on the other side and we still can’t get to the road,” Alexander said.

there There is still a slight risk of heavy rain Across the region Monday, according to National Weather ServiceWith the ground already saturated, more rain could trigger more flooding.

“If things are not difficult enough for the people in this area, it is raining now,” Bashir said on Monday.

There is flood watch in effect across parts of eastern Kentucky, including the communities of Jackson, Hazard, Bakeville, West Liberty, and Morehead.

“Rain and thunderstorms with precipitation rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, at times, will lead to the potential for flash floods during the afternoon,” the Jackson Met Office said. He added that “areas that witness frequent rains and thunderstorms will be most vulnerable to flash floods.”

Debris surrounds a heavily damaged house near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31, 2022.

Overnight Monday through Tuesday morning, the area could see a streak of heavy rain and a chance of severe thunderstorms with the threat of damaging winds and more flooding.

Temperatures are then expected to soar into the mid-80s and approach the 90s on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Weather Service, but will feel hotter due to the humidity. Heat indicators – the temperature you feel when the heat and humidity combine – are expected to peak around 100 degrees in some places, leaving rescue crews and displaced people facing sweltering heat. More than 14,000 customers Stay powerless.
as such climate crisis Fuels The most extreme and frequent weather event, many regions of the United States are currently at risk of flash floods, including large swaths of the desert southwest, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Tucson, Arizona.

The region is in dire need of resources

Kentucky State Police is still actively searching for missing residents in several counties and is asking families to report to law enforcement if a loved one is missing.

Meanwhile, state officials are focusing immediately on providing food, water and shelter to people forced to flee their homes.

A news release from the governor’s office on Sunday said power outages and storm damage left 22 water systems operating at limited capacity. It added that more than 60,000 water service connections are either without water or under a boil warning.

Bottled water, cleaning supplies and relief fund donations are among the resources most needed as the area works to achieve short- and long-term recovery, officials who are overseeing recovery efforts say. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides water-filled tractor trailers to many counties.

Volunteers work at a distribution center for donated goods in Buckhorn, Kentucky.

“A lot of these places have never been flooded,” Kentucky Mayor Donald Mobilini told CNN on Saturday. “So if they’ve never flooded, these people don’t have flood insurance.” “If they lose their home, it’s a complete loss. There will be no insurance check coming in to help with that. We need cash donations,” he said, referring to the state-established relief fund.

Created by Bashir Eastern Kentucky Team Flood Relief Fund To pay for the funeral expenses of flood victims and raise funds for those affected by the damages. As of Sunday morning, the fund had received more than $1 million in donations, according to the governor.

The federal government has approved relief funding for several counties. The governor said FEMA is also accepting individual disaster assistance requests from affected renters and homeowners in Braithet, Clay, Nott, Letcher and Perry counties, noting that he believes more counties will be added to the list as damage assessments continue.

Societies face irreparable damage

Although recovery efforts were still in the search-and-rescue phase over the weekend, Bashir said at a press conference on Saturday that he believed the losses would be “in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“This is one of the most devastating and deadly floods we have ever seen,” Bashir told NBC on Sunday. “It wiped out areas where people didn’t have much to begin with.”

And it wasn’t just personal belongings that were washed away by the flood waters. A building housing archival film and other materials in Whitesburg was affected, as the irreplaceable collection of historical films, videotapes and audio recordings that documented Appalachia was flooded.

How to help flood victims in Kentucky
Beloved Media, Arts and Education Center, Abal shopBearing the stories and voices of the area’s residents, Appalachian filmmaker Mimi Pickering told CNN. Staff and volunteers were racing to keep as much material as possible.

“We’re working as hard and fast as we can to try and conserve all of that stuff…the full effect, I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. I guess I don’t really want to think about it,” Pickering said. She noted that the Smithsonian Institution and others have reached out to provide assistance.

The significant loss experienced by Kentuckians is likely to take a psychological toll, Francis Ifrage, a 44-year-old therapist and resident of Hazzard, told CNN. While her home has survived, she said, some of her friends have destroyed their homes or lost their entire farms.

“When you put your blood, sweat, and tears into something and then see it torn before your eyes, there will be a grieving process,” Evraj said. “This community will rebuild and we will be fine, but the impact on mental health will be significant.”

Sarah Smart, Andy Rose, Lauren Lee, Raja Razek, Mike Valerio, Mark Bello, Cole Higgins, Robert Shackleford, Chris Boyett, Aya El Amrousy, Dakin Andoni, Caitlin Kaiser and Tom Satter contributed to this report.