- The governor says six of the 16 confirmed dead include four children from the same family.
- Some areas reported more than eight inches of rain in 24 hours.
- Some houses were almost completely submerged in low-lying areas with only their roofs visible.
UNITED STATES: Search and rescue teams were using boats and helicopters on Friday to search for survivors of flooding caused by torrential rains that killed at least 16 people in the Appalachia region of eastern Kentucky. were killed
Andy Beshear, the governor of the South Central American state, warned that the death toll from severe flooding “could be very high.”
Beshear said six of the 16 confirmed dead were children, four from the same family.
A flotilla of Kentucky National Guard helicopters, fish and wildlife boats and volunteers were searching Friday for people stranded on rooftops and even clinging to trees in flooded areas.
He said hundreds of people have been rescued by boats and about 50 air rescues by National Guard helicopters since the flooding began Wednesday evening.
“We still cannot reach many people” after washing many roads, the governor said.
“The current is so strong that it’s not safe for some of the waters that we need to do.”
The impoverished Appalachia region of eastern Kentucky has experienced severe flooding before, Beshear noted, “but we’ve never seen anything like this.”
“People who deal with this for a living, who have been doing this for 20 years, have never seen the water so high,” he said.
“Some people’s houses were completely washed away in the middle of the night while they were sleeping.”
Some areas reported more than eight inches (20 cm) of rain in a 24-hour period.
The water level of the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg rose to an astonishing 20 feet within hours, well above its previous record of 14.7 feet.
The weather forecast for the next several days calls for a brief respite over the weekend with a resumption forecast for Monday.
Many roads resembled rivers and wrecked cars and trucks littered the landscape or floated in muddy brown floodwaters.
Some houses were almost completely submerged in low-lying areas with only their roofs visible.
Perry County residents Kayla Brown, 29, and Joe Seeley Jr., 56, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that rapidly rising floodwaters trapped them in their mobile home.
“It was like a wave coming at you from the ocean,” Sally said.
Neighbors came to their rescue after their trailer fell off its foundation.
Four young children between the ages of one and a half to eight were swept away from their parents in hard-hit Nott County, the Herald-Leader reports.
The siblings’ cousin, Brittany Trejo, told the newspaper that their parents were rescued after clinging to a tree for eight hours.
“They were able to get to a tree and grab the kids a few hours before a big wave hit and washed them all away,” Trejo said.
The flooding in eastern Kentucky is the latest in a series of extreme weather events that scientists say are a clear sign of climate change.
In December 2021, a tornado killed nearly 60 people in western Kentucky.
President Joe Biden has issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky floods, allowing federal aid to increase state and local recovery efforts.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Dan Criswell accompanied the governor on an aerial tour of the flood-hit areas on Friday and will report back to the president.