Death toll rises from devastating US flood — Analysis

At least 30 Kentucky residents have died in torrential rainfalls. Hundreds more are still missing.

The death toll from last week’s devastating flooding in eastern Kentucky has climbed to at least 30 and, with hundreds of people still missing, the search for survivors will likely drag on for weeks, Governor Andy Beshear said on Monday.

“If things weren’t hard enough on the people of this region, they’re getting rain right now,” Beshear said at a press briefing, noting that four of the counties that were walloped by last week’s storm are under new flood warnings. “There is severe storm potential today in all of the impacted areas. That is just not right.”

Among the dead were at least six children, including four siblings – ages two to eight – who were swept away by the floodwaters as their family clung to a tree. Beshear said state officials are aware of additional victims’ remains beyond the 30 people who are confirmed to have been killed.

Dozens dead in US flood

Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, 8 to 10.5 in. of rain fell in the area. Most Kentuckians fell asleep when floodwaters began to inundate homes and businesses over the night. According to reports, the North Fork Kentucky River rose 18 feet in just a few hours between midnight and 10am Thursday. This was more than its flood stage of 14 feet. It also surpassed its record height by six feet.

As of Monday morning four days later, over 12,000 houses were without power. People whose homes were damaged or rendered inaccessible have taken refuge in parks, churches, and government-provided mobile houses. As a shelter, the Breathitt county courthouse was repurposed.

National Guard troops in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee assisted with recovery and search efforts. They rescued more than 600 people from the air, and helped to recover them. About 750 individuals were rescued by the state’s boat crews. Many roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed by the debris or mudslides.

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The storm struck in the heart of Kentucky’s Appalachia region, which includes some of the poorest areas in the US. Beshear said many people didn’t have flood insurance because it was too expensive. According to reports, curfews had been placed in at least two counties that were devastated by looting.

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