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Eastern Kentucky floods - live: Governor warns ‘this isn’t over’ as death toll reaches 16

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At least 16 people have been killed in torrential flooding in eastern Kentucky, after intense rain inundated many corners of the Appalachian mountain region.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency, and called it the “worst flooding disaster” in his lifetime.

The death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams continue to search through flooded areas. Floods began overnight between Wednesday and Thursday, but rains continued Thursday night and into Friday.

Thouands of people were out of power, and people have been reported waiting on roofs or in trees for rescue. The Kentucky National Guard, as well as state and local officials, were working on rescue operations.

Flash floods like this are likely to become more common in many parts of the United States as the climate crisis grows, a recent study found.

As the planet gets warmer, rainstorms can become more intense, dumping vastly more water in a short period of time. When there’s too much water all at once, the ground – especially in low-lying areas, cities, and nearby bodies of water like rivers – can become oversaturated and flood.

Intense flash floods also struck earlier this week in and around St. Louis, Missouri. In addition, massive floods swept through Yellowstone National Park earlier this summer.

Key Points

  • Many unnacounted for, but no reliable number due to spotty communication

  • So far 16 people have been confirmed dead, including two children

  • Flood warning still in effect, with more rain forecast over the week

15 dead in Kentucky flash floods including children

Friday 29 July 2022 14:28 , Ethan Freedman

15 dead in Kentucky flash floods including children

Death toll to rise

Friday 29 July 2022 14:39 , Ethan Freedman

Governor Beshear has said that he expects the death toll, currently at 15, to more than double, per the Associated Press.

Among the confirmed dead are children.

Power remains out

Friday 29 July 2022 14:47 , Ethan Freedman

About 23,000 customers were still without electricity on Friday morning, according to Poweroutage.us, with outages concentrated in Knott, Perry, Letcher, Leslie and Breathitt counties.

Flooding began overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Disaster also spread to Virginia, West Virginia

Friday 29 July 2022 14:54 , Ethan Freedman

The governors of Virginia and West Virginia have also declared states of emergency as some of the intense storms that hit eastern Kentucky spread into neighboring states.

A state of emergency declaration can open up resources for emergency services and first responders.

Photos show families escaping the disasters

Friday 29 July 2022 15:06 , Ethan Freedman

Rescue crews help a family in Quicksand, Kentucky (Getty Images)
Rescue crews help a family in Quicksand, Kentucky (Getty Images)
A family waits to hear news of missing relatives in Jackson, Kentucky (AFP via Getty Images)
A family waits to hear news of missing relatives in Jackson, Kentucky (AFP via Getty Images)

Rain isn’t done

Friday 29 July 2022 15:19 , Ethan Freedman

Parts of the US, including Kentucky, could experience more flooding in the week to come, as inches more rain is expected across a large swath of the country, per the National Weather Service

Biden issues disaster declaration

Friday 29 July 2022 15:22 , Ethan Freedman

President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster in response to the flooding in eastern Kentucky, opening up more resources to help emergency responders, per a statement from the white houe

Governor gives update briefing

Friday 29 July 2022 15:38 , Ethan Freedman

Governor Andy Beshear had expected to give an update “on the ground” in Hazard, Kentucky, but it was not safe to land, he said at a briefing

Death toll rises to 16

Friday 29 July 2022 15:39 , Ethan Freedman

At least 16 have died the Governor said on Friday morning

In Knott County, 11 have died, including two children

Hundreds are in shelter

Friday 29 July 2022 15:41 , Ethan Freedman

337 people are in shelters across the area of eastern Kentucky, Governor Beshear said on Friday morning

Dam breach a concern

Friday 29 July 2022 15:44 , Ethan Freedman

The Panbowl Dam, near Jackson, is at risk of breaching, after dicharge was seen coming through it.

While concerns are not as high as last night, the Governor said anyone still in the area that could be affected should evacuate.

Thousands still without power

Friday 29 July 2022 15:46 , Ethan Freedman

Just short of 24,000 people are still without power, Governor Beshear said

Roads still blocked

Friday 29 July 2022 15:50 , Ethan Freedman

At least 28 state roads are still blocked, but some areas are unable to even be reached for clearing due to damage, the Governor said

Friday 29 July 2022 15:51 , Ethan Freedman

“The people impacted by this are going to lose just about everyting”, Gov Beshear said

Nearly 300 rescued at least

Friday 29 July 2022 15:53 , Ethan Freedman

About 294 people have been rescued, including over 100 via air operations, the governor said on Friday, though the number may be higher

Friday 29 July 2022 15:55 , Ethan Freedman

“We are here to help you,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said

Friday 29 July 2022 15:57 , Ethan Freedman

Many people are still unaccounted for, FEMA Administrator Criswell said

Friday 29 July 2022 15:59 , Ethan Freedman

“This isn’t over,” Governor Beshear said. The water won’t crest in some areas until tomorrow, he noted, and rain is going to continue this weekend and into next week.

Friday 29 July 2022 16:02 , Ethan Freedman

Currently there is no reliable number of the people unaccounted for, in large part due to spotty communication in many of these areas, the governor said

Friday 29 July 2022 16:04 , Ethan Freedman

Perry County is still trying to figure out how many bridges they’ve lost, Governor Beshear said

Friday 29 July 2022 16:06 , Ethan Freedman

This kind of flooding, being so high, is hard to prevent, the governor said

Friday 29 July 2022 16:13 , Ethan Freedman

The North Fork Kentucky River in Whitesburg, Kentucky reached “major flooding” status on Thursday, shattering the record high with over 20 feet of water

The North Fork Kentucky River flood gauge showed record high water levels (NOAA)
The North Fork Kentucky River flood gauge showed record high water levels (NOAA)

Flood warnings still active

Friday 29 July 2022 16:16 , Ethan Freedman

Flood watches, warnings and advisories are still in effect for parts of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee as the forecast calls for more in the next few days

Rain will continue this week

Friday 29 July 2022 16:21 , Ethan Freedman

Up to three more inches of rain is expected over the next week in part of eastern Kentucky, which brings continued flood risk as conditions remain wet

Seven-day rainfall potential, showing up to four inches in part of the country (NOAA)
Seven-day rainfall potential, showing up to four inches in part of the country (NOAA)

Flooding also hits Las Vegas

Friday 29 July 2022 16:31 , Ethan Freedman

A flash flood struck in Las Vegas, Nevada last night, bringing rushing water to the Las Vegas Strip

Friday 29 July 2022 17:05 , Ethan Freedman

April Stivers was airlifted from her home in Lost Creek, Kentucky after her partner busted a hole in the roof to escape (Getty Images)
April Stivers was airlifted from her home in Lost Creek, Kentucky after her partner busted a hole in the roof to escape (Getty Images)

Friday 29 July 2022 18:21 , Ethan Freedman

Firefighters from Lexington, Kentucky head out to look for people in Lost Creek, Kentucky on Friday (Getty Images)
Firefighters from Lexington, Kentucky head out to look for people in Lost Creek, Kentucky on Friday (Getty Images)

Friday 29 July 2022 18:27 , Ethan Freedman

Many of the floods were in Appalachian towns along stream-lined valleys, reports the Associated Press, where intense rain pushed waters higher.

Governor and FEMA administrator survey dmanage

Friday 29 July 2022 18:29 , Ethan Freedman

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell have taken to the skies to oversee flooding and damage in eastern Kentucky

Photos tweeted by Ms Criswell show towns and roads inundated with muddy water

Friday 29 July 2022 19:40 , Ethan Freedman

President Joe Biden is expected call Kentucky Governor Beshear again on Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a news briefing

The president has also called Senator Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky

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