Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said there could be “many more” deaths from catastrophic flooding in the eastern part of the state.
“It’s going to get worse. I think we’ll update it, maybe even a few more weeks. … There’s still a lot of people unaccounted for. And in this area, it’s going to be a difficult task to get it. A certain number of people are unaccounted for,” he told CNN in a statement. He said in an interview.
At least 25 people have died in the floods so far, Beshear said earlier on Saturday.
At a briefing later in the afternoon, Beshear outlined the death toll by county: four in Breathitt County, two in Clay County, 14 in Knott County, two in Letcher County and three in Perry County.
Beshear noted during the news conference that officials now believe there are only four children in this group, not six.
“The original two children that were reported to us are now adults,” he said. “They are two more people missing and we feel sorry for them, but we want to make sure we have the most up-to-date information.”
He said the rain is forecast to return late Sunday, so rescue teams are moving as fast as possible.
“Water is still high in some districts. It’s high in most places, but not in all. Water systems are overloaded, so you have to boil water or no safe water. Think of the toilets in whole districts. We have a hospital. It has no water. So, there are real challenges. We’re still in this case. Even though the rain has stopped — thank God the rain has stopped — we’re still in search and rescue mode,” Beshear told CNN.
“Right now, the forecast looks like the counties below the Mountain Parkway could get another inch to two inches, rough. It’s expected to move through parts of Monday and then move out,” he added at the briefing. “The challenge after that is it’s going to be really hot as we go through the week.”
National Guard units from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia have performed more than 660 aerial rescues and more than 600 water rescues, Beshear told CNN.
Rescue workers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife are also at the forefront of rescue efforts, he said.
“They ended up having to collect more bodies than anyone else,” Beshear said. “This work is particularly challenging and what they experience firsthand is extremely stressful and difficult.”
The governor noted that authorities are already preparing to assist the displaced people as search and rescue operations continue.
“To everyone in Eastern Kentucky, we’re going to be there for you today and in the weeks, months and years to come. We’ll get through this together,” Beshear said in a tweet Saturday.
“This is a type of flood that we’ve never seen an area flood in our lifetime,” Beshear told CNN after returning from an aerial tour of the floodplain in Breathitt County on Friday.
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