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'I'm worried we're going to find bodies for weeks,' Gov. Beshear provides latest updates about flooding

Teresa Reynolds
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jul 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-30 16:06:07-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Beshear held a press conference on Saturday and provided the latest updates about the flooding in Eastern Kentucky.

As of Saturday afternoon, 14 counties and three cities have declared a state of emergency: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Wolfe counties; and the City of Beattyville, the City of Paintsville and the City of Salyersville.

25 people have been confirmed dead in five counties: 14 in Knott County (four of which were children), four in Breathitt County, three in Perry County, two in Clay County, and two in Letcher County.

"I'm worried were gonna be finding bodies for weeks to come," said Beshear.

It is unknown how many people are missing due to cell service issues. Five mobile communication vehicles are en route to help with these service issues.

To report a missing person, email ksppubaff@ky.gov or call the following number corresponding by county.

  • Pike, Magoffin, Johnson, Martin, and Floyd: 606-433-7171
  • Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry: 606-435-6069
  • Owsley, Jackson, and Lee: 859-623-2404
  • Wolfe and Morgan: 606-784-4127
  • Harlan: 606-573-3131

There is now a massive temporary flight restriction over the flood area, but search and rescue operations are still active.

Right now, 1,432 Kentuckians have been rescued by first responders.

The Kentucky National Guard has rescued 404 individuals by aircraft. The Tennessee National Guard rescued 244, and the West Virginia National Guard 36 by air.

19 people and two dogs were rescued by boat. Kentucky State Police has assisted with 624 water rescues as of now.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is helping with water service issues through 18 tractor trailers of clean water.

About 100 travel trailers are also on their way to eastern Kentucky. KYTC personnel from the Paducah district are flying in to assist with trailer installation. Beshear credits last year's tornadoes as helping the state be prepared for this situation.

There have been more than 18,000 power outages. Customers in Floyd and Pike counties should be 95% restored by Sunday night and restoration for Breathitt, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties will continue next week.

The governor provided a list of 15 emergency shelters listed by county for those in need.

Beshear reported that the Pan Bowl Lake Dam has almost all leaks fixed. Water is down 10 feet after cresting at 43.47 feet, the highest amount recorded since 1939. Roads surrounding the dam are back open, and the barricades have been removed.

Beshear also said the focus will remain on search and rescue for now. He does not see a rebuilding phase beginning at least for several days or weeks.

More than $684,000 has been donated to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. Beshear said that the first part of the funds is to help pay for the funerals.

"The least we ought to be able to do is grieve together," he said.

To donate to the fund, click here.