Infrastructure damage impedes flood recovery in Kentucky

HINDMAN, Ky. — Damage to critical infrastructure and the arrival of more heavy rain hampered efforts to help Kentucky residents affected by recent heavy flooding, Gov. Andy Beshear said on Sunday.

As Appalachia residents slowly try to get their lives back together, flash flood warnings were issued for at least eight eastern Kentucky counties. The National Weather Service said radar indicated that some areas received up to 4 inches of rain on Sunday, with more rain likely.

Beshear said the death toll from last week’s storm had risen to 26 on Sunday, a number expected to rise significantly and it could take weeks to find all the victims.

At least 37 people were unaccounted for, according to a daily briefing by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A dozen shelters were open for flood victims in Kentucky with 388 people on Sunday.

US National Guard Bureau Chief General Daniel Hokson told The Associated Press that nearly 400 people were rescued by National Guard helicopters. He estimated that the guards had rescued about 20 by boat from inaccessible areas.

At a news conference in Nott County, Beshear praised the rapid arrival of FEMA trailers, but noted several challenges.

“We have dozens of bridges that are out – it is getting difficult for people to reach, which has made it difficult to supply water to people,” he said. “We have a whole water system down there that we’re working hard to get up to.”

Beshear said it will be difficult, even a week from now, that “there are a solid number of people who are to blame. It’s communication issues—not necessarily even some of these.” In the areas, how many people were living in the first place.

The governor also talked about the selflessness seen among flood-stricken Kentucky residents.

“Many people who have lost everything but can’t even find stuff for themselves are getting them for other people in their neighborhood, making sure their neighbors are okay,” Beshear said. .

Amid survival stories, a 17-year-old girl, whose home in Whitesburg was flooded Thursday, put her dog in a plastic container and swam 70 yards to a neighbor’s roof to escape safely. Chloe Adams waited until broad daylight in a kayak before a relative arrived and was taken to a safe place, first with her dog, Sandy, and then the teenager.

“My daughter is safe and up all night tonight,” her father, Terry Adams, said in a Facebook post. “We lost everything today… except everything that matters most.”

One morning in the town of Hindman, about 200 miles southeast of Louisville, a crew cleaned up rubble piled up along a storefront. Nearby, a vehicle was parked upside down in Troublesome Creek, which is now back within its rubble-filled shores.

The workers labored non-stop on the paved earthen pavements and roads.

Tom Jackson, one of the workers, said, “We’ll be here until there’s a deluge.”

Jackson was with a crew from Corbin, Kentucky, where he is the city’s recycling director, about a two-hour drive from Hindman.

His crew worked all day on Saturday, and the mud and debris was so thick that they managed to clear one-eighth of the road. There was so much force in the water flowing from the hills that it bent the road signs.

“I’ve never seen water like this,” Jackson said.

Attendance for the Sunday morning service at Hindman’s First Baptist Church was low. Parishioners who rarely miss a service come back home to clean up caused by floodwaters and mud.

Rev Mike Caudill said his church has helped the reeling community by setting up tents to serve food and pick up cleaning and personal hygiene supplies to people.

Totes filled with clothes and photographs were piled on the front porch of retired teacher Teresa Perry Reynolds, as well as badly damaged furniture.

“There are memories there,” she said of the family photos that she and her husband were able to collect.

Her husband’s wallet was lost on Thursday while escaping the fast-rising water on his way to a neighbor’s house, which was later found.

“All I know is that I am homeless and that I have people taking care of me,” she said.

Parts of eastern Kentucky received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches in 48 hours. About 13,000 utility customers in Kentucky were without electricity on Sunday. power informed of.

President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster to send relief money to more than a dozen Kentucky counties.

Last week’s flooding extended to West Virginia, where Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six southern counties, and in Virginia, where Governor Glenn Youngkin also declared an emergency, prompting officials in the southwest portion of the floodplain. Enabled to mobilize resources. State.

Rabie reported from Charleston, West Virginia. Associated Press writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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