‘Hundreds will lose their homes’ in devastating Kentucky floods, governor says

“What we’re going to see coming out of this is massive property damage,” Gov. Andy Beshear told a news conference from Frankfort.

“We expect loss of life. Hundreds of people will lose their homes, and this will be yet another event (where) it will take not months, but probably years, for many families to rebuild and recover. .”

Parts of eastern Kentucky received more than 8 inches of rain Wednesday through Thursday morning, overwhelming creeks, creeks and ground already saturated from previous rains, the National Weather Service said. Flood and flash flood warnings are in effect for parts of eastern Kentucky through Thursday afternoon.

In the small creek town of Hindman, waist-deep water turned a main road into a river before dawn, video by storm chaser Brandon Clement shows.

Barbara Wicker was worried about her loved ones in town, including five grandchildren, because the water had surrounded their homes, she told Clement.

“I can’t reach them. I can’t reach 911. … There’s no help in sight,” Wicker told Clement early Thursday in Hindman, a Knott County town about 130 miles away. southeast of Lexington.

“It goes a long way in there – everyone is stuck,” Kendra Bentley, a resident of Hindman, also near a road outside, told Clement of floodwaters surrounding homes.

Whitewater rescues were reported Thursday in Perry County, Kentucky, including in Chavies, a community of a few hundred people about 30 miles west of Hindman and 110 road miles southeast. east of Lexington, the weather service said.

In the Perry County community of Buckhorn, deep floodwaters surrounded a school on Thursday morning, forming a large brown lake around the building and swallowing all but the top of a playground, video posted to Facebook by Marlene Abner Stokely.
Water nearly swallowed some buildings Thursday morning in the community of Lost Creek in Breathitt County, eastern Kentucky.

The Kentucky National Guard was activated to assist with rescues and recovery, and was deploying three water-capable helicopters and trucks to help “keep as many Kentuckians safe as possible,” Beshear said. .

Beshear has also declared an emergency to help unlock other resources, he said. Fish and wildlife workers were “out with boats, working to make water rescues safe for their staff,” he said.

Further flooding is possible Thursday, especially in parts of eastern Kentucky – where an additional 1 to 3 inches are possible during the day – southern West Virginia and extreme southwestern Virginia, the weather service said.

“Please stay off the roads”

In the Breathitt County community of Jackson, floodwaters quickly swept through a home in the predawn darkness on Thursday, carrying a trash can and other debris with it, video recorded by Deric Lostutter showed.

Breathitt County opened its courthouse as a shelter for people displaced by flooding, the county’s emergency management agency said on Facebook.

“Many county roads are covered in water and impassable. Please stay off the roads if possible tonight,” the message said.

Rescue teams were unable to reach several areas due to “fast moving water on the roads”, the emergency management agency noted.
Floodwaters pass a home in the Breathitt County community of Jackson early Thursday.

‘Seemingly endless fire hose’ of moisture across much of the US

Thursday’s flooding in Kentucky comes two days after record rainfall caused widespread flash flooding in the St. Louis area.
It’s part of a “seemingly endless fire hose of monsoon and Gulf of Mexico moisture that’s producing a treadmill of heavy rain and thunderstorms from the southwest through central Appalachia,” it said Thursday. morning the Weather Forecast Center.

Recent rains, with more to come, make additional flash flooding likely in parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and central Appalachia over the next two days, the forecast center said.

A moderate risk — or Level 3 of 4 — of excessive precipitation exists Thursday for parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and northern Tennessee — as well as parts of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, a indicated the forecast center.
The climate crisis is supercharging rainfall around the world. The atmosphere can hold more moisture as temperatures rise, which can lead to higher precipitation rates and make record-breaking downpours more likely.
Scientists are increasingly confident in the role the climate crisis is playing in extreme weather events and have warned that these events will become more intense and more dangerous with each fraction of a degree of warming.

CNN’s Chris Boyette, Monica Garrett, Sara Smart and Judson Jones contributed to this report

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