Kids Were Slowly Washed Away as Family Clung to Tree

Amber Smith and Riley Noble's 4 children died in Kentucky's flash floods
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2022 5:20 AM CDT
Kids Were Slowly Washed Away as Family Clung to Tree
Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it's some of the worst flooding in state history.   (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday warned it could take weeks for the state to arrive at a final death toll in the flash floods that killed at least 25 people, reports the AP. And while some victims may have yet to be found, four of the confirmed dead have been identified as children from the same family. The Lexington Herald-Leader speaks with a relative of Amber Smith and Riley Noble, who received an alert at 2am Thursday about the coming flash floods in their Knott County community of Montgomery. Brittany Trejo says the parents climbed onto the roof of their mobile home with their children within minutes, as water was already beginning the fill the trailer. Then the "entire underneath washed out," Trejo says.

The family managed to cling to each other and float to a tree, where over the course of many hours the current wrenched the children from them one by one. "The rage of the water took their children out of their hands," said Trejo, recounting what she says Smith, her cousin, has told her. The New York Times reports Smith and Noble were rescued about 8 hours later by someone in a kayak. The bodies of Maddison Noble, 8; Riley Noble Jr., 6; Nevaeh Noble, 4; and Chance Noble, 1 1/2, were recovered by midday Friday.

An official in Breathitt County tells the Times, "Homes are washed away, communities are washed away, roads are washed away. I’ve heard of hundred-year floods, but this is way beyond that. In the history of Kentucky, our county has never seen anything like this." Indeed, NBC News reports the more than 9 inches of rain that eastern Kentucky got on Thursday was a 1-in-1,000-year flood event, which translates into a 0.1% chance of it happening in a given year. (Read more Kentucky stories.)

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