Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia have issued emergency declarations and launched search and rescue efforts amid flooding.
At least 16 people have died in eastern Kentucky in record flooding, where the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue teams search for missing people from communities washed away by the water.
“The difficult news is that there are now 16 fatalities, and people that will be much higher,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at a briefing on Friday.
Beshear said the dead included elderly men and women and two children.
Violent floods swallowed towns that span creeks and streams in the valleys and hollows of the Appalachians, flooding homes and businesses, wrecking vehicles in useless piles and crushing runaway equipment and debris against bridges. Mudslides caused people to get stuck on steep slopes and at least 33,000 customers were left without power.
“Anyone out there who is scared, who can’t get in touch with any of their relatives. Cell phones are not available in so many of these regions,” the governor said. “We will try to connect as many people as possible. ”
Search and rescue teams had rescued at least 294 people, with more than 100 airlifted by the National Guard from affected areas, the governor said.
Rachel Patton said floods filled her Floyd County home so quickly that her mother, who was on oxygen, had to be evacuated through a door that floated over the high water. Patton’s voice faltered as she described their harrowing escape.
“We had to swim outside and it was cold. It was over my head, so it was, it was scary,” she told WCHS TV.
US President Joe Biden has approved Beshear’s request for a state disaster declaration to release federal funds for rescue and reconstruction assistance.
Some of the hardest hit areas suffer from high levels of poverty, and Beshear predicted it will take more than a year to recover from the damage.
The flood situation in eastern Kentucky is ongoing, with a flood watch through today. It is heartbreaking that we can confirm at least 15 deaths, but we expect that number to grow. More than 23,000 Kentuckians are without power. 1/3 https://t.co/mrx4htJY0k
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) July 29, 2022
On Friday it continued to rain in the region. Flood warnings and watches remained in effect throughout the day for the eastern half of the state, as well as northeastern Tennessee and western West Virginia, where more rainfall was expected to swell waterways already well above their flood stage. the National Weather Service (NWS)) said.
Rivers across the region were expected to peak Friday and throughout the weekend, while the risk of more dangerous flash flooding continued to be possible during the day, the NWS said.
Emergency declarations have been issued in Virginia and West Virginia, and rescue teams in those states have been deployed to help people in areas where flooding has blocked access to roads. Power outages in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky have affected more than 33,000 people, according to Poweroutage.us.
Elsewhere in the United States, Las Vegas was ravaged by heavy rains, with floodwaters spilling over streets and pouring into several casino floors and parking garages along the famed Las Vegas Strip, video posted on local media and social media showed.
Major road flooding in the Las Vegas Arts District.
: Jose Amaya pic.twitter.com/kRZZQQcale
— David Charns (@davidcharns) July 29, 2022
At Circa Casino, a social media video showed rain pouring down from a wall of video screens, while at Planet Hollywood, water rained down onto a casino table from what appeared to be a hole in the ceiling.
The Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri was hit by several floods this week, with torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday filling the streets with water and a second series of storms on Thursday repeating the flooding.
The city’s fire department said it has helped at least 60 people affected by the high water and responded to 75 emergency-related floods, and the weather service has said the intensity of the downpour is unprecedented in history. from the city.
— NATALIE MINERVA 💅🏼✨ (@NatalieMinerva) July 29, 2022