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'This isn't just a disaster. It is an ongoing natural disaster,' Gov. Beshear talks Eastern Kentucky Flooding

Bonnie Comba
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 17:53:26-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear describes the flooding in Eastern Kentucky as devastating.

"Kentucky floods 52 weeks a year, but not like this," Beshear said during a Thursday press conference. "Not like this."

The governor and the state's top emergency teams watched the flooding unfold from the Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort. It didn't take long before a state of emergency was declared.

"I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant, deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time," said Beshear. "There are going to be a lot of people out there that need our help. There are going to be a lot of people that are going to be displaced."

As of 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Beshear confirmed eight people have died in the flooding. And that death toll is expected to grow.

"Last night, most likely, we lost people in the middle of the night - maybe even in their sleep," said Beshear. "Unfortunately, I expect double-digit deaths in this flooding."

The state's top priority is search and rescue. Rescue teams attempted to reach those stranded, but conditions made it difficult for boats to reach certain areas. The governor described people waiting on roofs, and in trees, waiting for rescue.

"We have a lot of people that need help, and we can't get to [them] at the moment," said Beshear.

"The situation really has two pieces. Number one - when we can get to them. The challenge is getting to them to make sure we can rescue them. Also, number two - when and if the water recedes before more water comes. So, as we look at this picture, it is dire for a lot of people out there," explained Beshear. "We're getting to them as fast as we can."

"It takes a while after the rain for the water to crest and then, ultimately, come down," added Beshear. "We're going to be at it as long as it takes."

Beshear said neighboring states are sending additional aircraft to help with the rescue effort. He has also been in contact with the White House and has been assured FEMA teams will be on the ground in Kentucky by tonight.

The thing that concerns Beshear is the fact that this flooding is not over. More rain is expected in Eastern Kentucky overnight.

"This isn't just a disaster. It is an ongoing natural disaster," said Beshear. "We are in the midst of it."

Beshear says he will be traveling to the area, but is holding off in an attempt to not use up equipment that could be used in rescue efforts.

"I want to make sure that my travel doesn't take assets away when they are needed," said Beshear. "I'm not going to go at a time when it might pull one helicopter away that could be helping people."

In the meantime, the state has launched the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. All donations will be used to help the people affected by the floods.