Catastrophic Flooding in Kentucky leaves 16 Dead with Death Toll Rising; 23,000 without Power

“I wish I could tell you why we keep getting hit here in Kentucky. I wish I could tell you why areas – where people may not have that much – continue to get hit and lose everything. I cannot give you the why, but I know what we do in response. The answer is everything we can. Gov. Andy Beshear, July 28, 2022

Knott County, Ky

At least 16 people are dead following catastrophic flooding in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. That number is expected to double and includes children, he told CNN earlier, as rescuers scramble to reach areas difficult to access.

“It’s going to get a lot higher,” Beshear said at a news conference Friday morning, adding that an unknown number of people are missing.

“There’s going to be multiple families that we’ve lost,” Beshear told Brianna Keilar on CNN’s “New Day” earlier. “Kids that won’t get the opportunity to grow up and experience so much that we have.” 

Jackson, Ky.

“This is so deadly, and it hit so hard, and it hit in the middle of the night,” the governor said, adding that although eastern Kentucky often floods, “we’ve never seen something like this.”

Rescuers are working around the clock to reach areas where flooding washed away roads or left them under water after heavy rain Wednesday night into Thursday.

More rain and storms were expected this weekend after over 6 inches of rain fell Wednesday night into Thursday. Meteorologist Brandon Bonds with the National Weather Service in Jackson said it won’t take much more rain to “cause even more damage.” A flood watch or warning was expected to stay in effect for many of the areas that saw the worst of the flooding. 

Beshear on Friday morning said the state currently does not have a “reliable number” of people unaccounted for due to communication difficulties and unavailable cell service.

“It’s going to be really challenging in this area to get a good number,” Beshear said.

At least 337 people have sought shelter, Beshear said Friday morning. Crews rescued nearly 300 people by air and boat. 

“In a word, this event is devastating, and I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time,” Beshear said Thursday.

While rain was reported in several areas around the state, the flooding took place in Eastern Kentucky, in counties near the border with Virginia and West Virginia. As of Friday morning, more than 23,000 Kentuckians were without power and several counties didn’t have access to water, Beshear said. 

Towns and cities reported having been hit the hardest are Hazard, Jackson, Garrett, Salyersville, Booneville, Whitesburg and the rest of Perry County.

The stretch of the Kentucky River in Jackson reached the highest it has ever been, at 43.2 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson as of 6 a.m. Friday. That mark broke a record set in 1939 when the height of the river reached 43.1 feet..

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