At least 25 people, some of them children, were killed after rainfall triggered catastrophic flooding in Kentucky, according to Gov. Andy Beshear, who warned the death toll would likely climb as search and rescue crews continue combing through towns across the Appalachian foothills.
“It’s going to get worse. And I think that we will be updating it, maybe even for weeks to come,” Beshear told CNN on Saturday. “There are still so many people unaccounted for. And in this area, it’s going to be a hard task to get a firm number of folks unaccounted for.”
The governor, struggling at times to contain his emotion, said the deaths span five counties, some of them among the poorest places in America.
In Knott County, first responders on Friday recovered the bodies of four children — Maddison Noble, 8; Riley Jr., 6; Nevaeh Noble, 4; and Chance Noble, 2. Their family climbed onto the roof of their trailer to avoid the flood waters inundating their home, according to the New York Times. Amber Smith and her husband, Riley Noble, eventually guided their children to a tree, but the waters were too strong and all four of them were swept away in the flood waters.
“The rage of the water took their children out of their hands,” Brittany Trejo, a cousin, told the newspaper.
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As of Saturday afternoon, more than 18,600 customers were without power, most of them in the hard hit counties of Knott, Breathitt, Perry, Letcher and Leslie in the eastern part of the state
According to the US Geological Survey, Kentucky experienced eight to 10 inches of rainfall over the span of just 24 hours. The rain let up early Friday, but the wet weather is expected to return on Sunday, creating an urgency among first responders and rescue teams to locate survivors.
The Kentucky State Police and the National Guards of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia have been working around the clock since rainfall ripped across the region. So far, crews have made more than 1,200 rescues from helicopters and boats, the governor said.
“To everyone in Eastern Kentucky, we are going to be there for you today and in the weeks, months and years ahead,” Beshear wrote in a tweet.
“We will get through this together.”
President Joe Biden on Friday declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to more than a dozen Kentucky counties.
With News Wire Services