Kentucky Flooding Is 'Catastrophic'

Death toll at 3, but governor warns that will rise
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 28, 2022 4:11 PM CDT
Kentucky Flooding Is 'Catastrophic'
Homes are flooded by Lost Creek, Ky., on Thursday, July 28, 2022.   (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Devastating rain hit St. Louis first. Now it's Kentucky's turn. Rescue workers plucked people off rooftops amid fast-rising water Thursday in central Appalachia, where torrential rains unleashed devastating flooding that caused at least three deaths in Kentucky, per the AP. Gov. Andy Beshear announced the deaths but predicted the state’s death toll could reach double digits, with hundreds of properties destroyed. “In a word, this event is devastating,” the governor said Thursday. “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."

One emergency official in hard-hit eastern Kentucky described the situation as “catastrophic” as rescue crews searched for stranded people. Rising waters swamped roads, displaced families, and caused widespread damage. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia, and southern West Virginia, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. “There are a lot of people in eastern Kentucky on top of roofs waiting to be rescued," Beshear said earlier Thursday. "There are a number of people that are unaccounted for and I’m nearly certain this is a situation where we are going to lose some of them.”

In Kentucky's Perry, Leslie, and Clay counties, people in low areas were urged to seek higher ground after multiple swift water rescues. Breathitt County's courthouse was opened overnight. The storms hit an Appalachian mountain region where communities and homes are built on steep hillsides or down in the hollows between them, where the only flat land often shoulders creeks and streams that can rise in a hurry. But this one is far worse than a typical flood, said Emergency Management Director Jerry Stacy. "I’ve lived here in Perry County all my life and this is by the far the worst event I’ve ever seen,” said the 54-year-old.

(Read more Kentucky stories.)

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