Rescuers in Kentucky are leading the door-to-door search in worsening weather conditions as they prepare for a long and grueling effort to locate victims of flooding that devastated the eastern state, the governor said Sunday.
Some areas in the mountainous region remain inaccessible after flooding turned roads into rivers, washed out bridges, swept away homes and killed at least 26 people. Poor cell phone service also complicates rescue efforts.
“We are going to work to go door to door, work to find, again, as many people as we can. We even go to work in the rain. But the weather is making it difficult,” Beshear said.
“We’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of meters, maybe more than a quarter of a mile from where they were lost,” Beshear said on “Meet the Press.”
Some were distributing bottles of water to those in need. A boat marked “FEMA Rescue 4” was sitting on a trailer, indicating the presence of federal emergency crews.
The floods hit a region of Kentucky already suffering from abject poverty, fueled by the decline of the coal industry, which was the heart of its economy, taking everything away from people who could least afford it.
– Threat of more flooding –
The water level of the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Whitesburg rose a staggering 20 feet in a matter of hours, well above its previous record high of 14.7 feet.
“The threat of flash flooding will increase throughout the day as heavy rain and thunderstorms develop and their coverage expands,” he said on Twitter.
The eastern Kentucky flood is the latest in a series of extreme weather events that scientists say are a sure sign of climate change.
“We learned a lot of lessons in western Kentucky about those devastating tornadoes about seven months ago, so we’re providing whatever support we can and we’re moving quickly from across the state to help,” he told CNN on Saturday.
Originally posted as rescuers face new rains as Kentucky flood death toll reaches 26