(LEX 18) — In an interview with LEX 18, Gov. Beshear says eight people have died after severe flooding in Eastern Kentucky, and he expects that number to climb into the double digits.
The governor told LEX 18's Nancy Cox and Larry Smith that more helicopters on the way. Officials still can't get to some people to rescue them.
Emergency officials say they've never seen anything like this. Multiple bridges and roads are gone.
"Half of Floyd County feels like it's underwater," said Gov. Beshear.
The governor says people inside a Letcher County nursing home were safely evacuated. Officials say they're working to get cell coverage back up, but they can't get on the roads to make the needed repairs.
More zodiac boats are on the way from Louisville. They're urging people to stay in a safe place Thursday night, as the waters should rise.
Gov. Beshear says people are waiting to be rescued by air at this moment. They're asking people to stay away from the flooded communities so they aren't in the way of emergency crews.
If Kentuckians have a missing loved one in Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, or Perry counties, please do not call 911. Instead, call Kentucky State Police Post 13 directly at (606) 435-6069 or your local law enforcement agency. Please note phone lines are extremely busy right now and it may take multiple calls to get through.
🚨**UPDATE** 🚨— KY State Police (@kystatepolice) July 28, 2022
Additional county contact numbers added for those trying to locate missing family members. pic.twitter.com/7cViOuqEXZ
The governor declared a state of emergency for several southeastern Kentucky counties after severe flooding hit the area overnight Wednesday into Thursday.
At least six counties have declared local states of emergency: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley, and Pike.
"We are currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky's history," said Gov. Beshear.
The governor says in many areas, water has not receded, or even crested, at this point. He says they expect a "loss of life" from the floods and expect hundreds to lose their homes.
"This is going to be yet another event that it's going to take not months but, likely, years for many families to rebuild and recover from," said Gov. Beshear.
"Kentucky floods 52 weeks a year, but not like this," said Gov. Beshear. "Not like this."
The following counties have set up shelters across the area:
PIKE: Thacker Memorial Funeral Home, Shelby Valley High School
FLOYD: Floyd Co. Community Center
HAZARD: First Presbyterian Church, East Perry Elementary, West Perry Elementary, Gospel Light Baptist Church, Second Creek Church of God, Buckhorn Lake State Resort Lodge
BREATHITT: Breathitt Co. Courthouse
STATE PARKS: Jenny Wiley, Pine Mountain, Buckhorn
Governor Beshear says there are a lot of people stranded on roofs waiting to be rescued. The power is out in many areas and truckloads of fresh water are on the way.
The Kentucky National Guard is responding with helicopters and trucks that can move through the water.
In Perry County, at least two people are confirmed dead, according to Perry County Sheriff Joe Engle. He says there could be more deaths as crews are out responding to flooded neighborhoods and mobile home communities.
Engle says he's been sheriff for four years and in law enforcement for 25 years. He calls it "historically unlike anything he has ever seen." He says most of the agencies are volunteer fire departments. They're hoping the water will recede so they can rescue people that are still trapped.
In Pike County, rescue efforts are still underway as they wait for the water to clear off roadways. Shelby Valley High School has been set up as a temporary shelter. With flooding spread throughout the southern part of the county, crews are unsure how many residents still need assistance out of their homes and how many have already been rescued. The county is experiencing both water and power loss.
If you live in Pike County and need help, you can contact the Judge Executive's Office at (606) 432-6247 or the Office of Emergency Management (606) 432-0210.
Clay County's treasurer says that the damage is pretty much countywide right now, including flooding, downed trees, and power outages. The judge-executive is out with a crew right now but they are down several people who weren't able to come in because of the damage. They have gotten more than 30 calls Thursday morning from people that are stranded and looking to be rescued.
The Lexington Fire Department says they've received a request to send swift water crews to Lost Creek, Kentucky to assist with the flooding in that region. They are sending a team of nine members along with two boats.
Their mission is to rescue up to three people that are trapped in the Riverside Christian school. A tenth member is deploying to the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist.