“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. .”
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.
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.
“Many county roads are covered in water and impassable. Please stay off the roads if possible tonight,” the message said.
‘Seemingly endless fire hose’ of moisture across much of the US
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.
CNN’s Chris Boyette, Monica Garrett, Sara Smart and Judson Jones contributed to this report