Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said there could be “significantly more” deaths due to devastating flooding in the eastern part of the state.
“It’s going to get worse. And I think we’re going to update it, maybe even for weeks. … There are still so many people missing. And in this area, it’s going to be a difficult task to get a number of missing persons,” he told CNN in an interview.
At least 25 people have died from the floods so far, Beshear said earlier on Saturday.
In a briefing later that afternoon, Beshear outlined the death toll by county: four in Breathitt County, two in Clay County, 14 in Knott County, two in Letcher County and three in Perry County.
Beshear noted at the press conference that authorities now believe “there are only four children in this group and not six.”
“The first two children reported to us have now turned out to be adults,” he said. “It’s still two people who have been lost and we mourn them, but we wanted to make sure that we had communicated our most recent information.”
He said it is expected to rain again later on Sunday, so rescue teams are moving as quickly as possible.
“Water is still high in some counties. It’s peaking in most, but not all. Water systems are overwhelmed, so either no water or water that’s not safe that you have to boil. Think of toilets in entire counties. We have a hospital that has no water. So real challenges there. And we’re still in this thing. Even though it’s stopped raining – and thank goodness it stopped raining – we are still in search and rescue mode,” Beshear CN said.
“For now, the forecast looks like counties below Mountain Parkway, an inch to maybe two inches, which could be ballpark. It should go through parts of Monday and then disappear,” a- he added during the briefing. “The challenge after that, it’s going to get really hot as we go through the week.”
National Guard units in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia performed more than 660 air rescues, and there were more than 600 water rescues, Beshear told CNN.
Rescuers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife are also at the forefront of recovery efforts, he said.
“They ultimately had to collect the bodies more than anyone else,” Beshear said. “The mission was particularly difficult and what they experience firsthand is extremely stressful and difficult.”
Even though search and rescue operations are continuing, the governor noted that authorities are already preparing to help the displaced people.
“To everyone in Eastern Kentucky, we’re going to be here for you today and in the weeks, months and years to come. We’re going to get through this together,” Beshear said in a tweet on Saturday.
“It’s a type of flooding that even a flooded area has never seen in our lifetimes,” Beshear told CNN after returning from an aerial flood tour in Breathitt County on Friday.