US: 16 killed as torrential rains flood eastern Kentucky
The number of deaths in the United States' (US) eastern Kentucky state increased to at least 16 as "epic" torrential rains ripped down homes, wiped out highways, and drove rivers over their banks, state officials said, warning that more deaths were likely. On Friday, President Joe Biden designated the Kentucky floods as a major disaster, allowing federal funds to be disbursed to the state.
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The disaster occurred two weeks after flash floods brought on by rain engulfed the riverbank Appalachian town of Whitewood in southwest Virginia, close to the Kentucky border. A state of emergency was proclaimed on Thursday by Jim Justice, the West Virginia Governor, for six counties in the state where floods brought down drinking water systems and obstructed roadways due to severe rains.
This isn't over...there are still real dangers out there: Governor
Dozens of people were rescued from homes and vehicles in the Appalachian coal-mining region of Kentucky using helicopters and boats by police and National Guard forces, including those from neighboring states. Local footage showed flooding reaching residences' rooftops and turning roadways into rivers. "This isn't over. While we're doing search and rescue, there are still real dangers out there," Governor Andy Beshear reportedly stated.
Jackson town submerged, the situation is devastating: Beshear
Beshear was reportedly taken aback by the scope of the floods after a helicopter flight over the worst-affected districts with Deanne Criswell, the chief of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. According to him, the majority of Jackson, a town of 2,200 people located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Frankfort, the capital of the state, was drowned. It's "just devastating," he stated.
16 deaths include 6 children, several missing
Beshear said on Friday that the number of confirmed flood-related fatalities had risen to 16 from 15, along with at least six children, and that the number of deaths would almost surely rise as floodwaters receded and search crews discovered more corpses. "There're still a lot of people unaccounted for...We may be updating the count...how many we lost... for next several weeks," he stated.
Over 20 cm of rainfall received in 24 hours: KGS
The floods were caused by heavy precipitation of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain that dropped over the state in 24 hours, a deluge that may be unprecedented in the region's record books, according to William Haneberg, an environmental studies professor and head of the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS). "It's a truly epic event," Haneberg reportedly stated.
Climate change causing floods, 300 rescued
Haneberg stated that the rising frequency and intensity of rain-caused flooding in the Appalachian region is evidence of human-caused climate change. Approximately 22,000 Kentucky homes and businesses and 2,200 West Virginia households and companies were without power on Friday. At least 300 individuals have reportedly been rescued by emergency responders in Kentucky. "Everything's gone....We had to swim...It was over my head...scary!," a resident stated.Share this timeline