NATIONAL NEWS

Appalachian floods kill at least 15 as rescue teams deploy

Jul 29, 2022, 6:57 AM | Updated: 2:04 pm
Members of the Jackson Fire Department prepare to conduct search and rescue operations downtown on ...
Members of the Jackson Fire Department prepare to conduct search and rescue operations downtown on July 28, 2022 in Jackson, Kentucky. Storms that dropped as much as 12 inches of rain in some parts of Eastern Kentucky have caused devastating floods in some areas and have claimed at least eight lives. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

JACKSON, Ky. (AP) — Search and rescue teams backed by the National Guard searched Friday for people missing in record floods that wiped out entire communities in some of the poorest places in America. Kentucky’s governor said 15 people have died, a toll he expected to grow as the rain keeps falling.

“We’ve still got a lot of searching to do,” said Jerry Stacy, the emergency management director in Kentucky’s hard-hit Perry County. “We still have missing people.”

Powerful floodwaters swallowed towns that hug creeks and streams in Appalachian valleys and hollows, swamping homes and businesses, leaving vehicles in useless piles and crunching runaway equipment and debris against bridges. Mudslides on steep slopes left many people marooned and without power, making rescues more difficult.

Gov. Andy Beshear told the AP before touring the disaster area that the 15 dead in Kentucky includes children, “but I expect that number to more than double, probably even throughout today.”

Emergency crews made close to 50 air rescues and hundreds of water rescues on Thursday, and more people still needed help on Friday, the governor said. “This is not only an ongoing disaster but an ongoing search and rescue. The water is not going to crest in some areas until tomorrow.”

Determining the number of people unaccounted for is tough with cell service and electricity out across the disaster area, he said: “This is so widespread, it’s a challenge on even local officials to put that number together.”

More than 200 people have sought shelter, Beshear said. He deployed National Guard soldiers to the hardest-hit areas. Three parks set up shelters, and with property damage so extensive, the governor opened an online portal for donations to the victims.

“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,” Beshear said Thursday.

While floodwaters receded in places after peaking Thursday, the National Weather Service said flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall remained possible through Friday evening across the mountains of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia and southern West Virginia, where thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain had fallen in some spots by Thursday, and 1 to 3 more inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) could fall, the weather service said.

“Places where there were mobile homes and houses, there’s nothing there now … It’s unbelievable to see,” Stacy said after an initial damage assessment on Thursday. ”You get 8 inches of rain in three hours, it’s just not anything that we have ever seen — ever, here.”

Krystal Holbrook’s family raced through the night to move vehicles, campers, trailers and equipment as rapidly rising floodwaters menaced her southeastern Kentucky town of Jackson. “Higher ground is getting a little bit difficult” to find, she said.

More rain Friday tormented the region after days of torrential rainfall. The storm sent water gushing from hillsides and surging out of streambeds, inundating roads and forcing rescue crews to use helicopters and boats to reach trapped people. Flooding also damaged parts of western Virginia and southern West Virginia, across a region where poverty is endemic.

“There are hundreds of families that have lost everything,” Beshear said. “And many of these families didn’t have much to begin with. And so it hurts even more. But we’re going to be there for them.”

In Whitesburg, Kentucky, floodwaters seeped into Appalshop, an arts and education center renowned for promoting and preserving the region’s history and culture.

“We’re not sure exactly the full damage because we haven’t been able to safely go into the building or really get too close to it,” said Meredith Scalos, its communications director. “We do know that some of our archival materials have flooded out of the building into Whitesburg streets.”

Poweroutage.us reported more than 33,000 customers remained without electricity Friday in eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, with the bulk of the outages in Kentucky.

Rescue crews also worked in Virginia and West Virginia to reach people in places where roads weren’t passable. Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six counties in West Virginia where the flooding downed trees, power outages and blocked roads.

___

Associated Press Writers Rebecca Reynolds and Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Ky., and Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Md., contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 20: In this photo illustration, Janine Ramirez, Hearing Aid Spec...
MATTHEW PERRONE AP Health Writer

Over-the-counter hearing aids expected this fall in US

Millions of Americans will be able to buy hearing aids without a prescription later this fall, under a long-awaited rule finalized Tuesday.
14 hours ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04:  Actor Ezra Miller attends the 'Justice League' photocall at The Col...
JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

Ezra Miller seeks treatment for ‘mental health issues’

After a string of arrests and erratic behavior that spanned Hawaii to Vermont, “Flash” actor Ezra Miller said they have begun treatment for “complex mental health issues.”
14 hours ago
Getty Images
16 Aug 22...
Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

Florida judge to hold hearing Thursday on request to unseal Mar-a-Lago affidavit

The judge who approved the Mar-a-Lago search warrant will hold a hearing Thursday at the court in Florida to discuss requests to unseal the affidavit.
14 hours ago
UNITED STATES - MARCH 15:  This is the campus of ITT Technical Institute in Anaheim, California, Mo...
Katie Lobosco, CNN

Biden administration cancels another $3.9 billion in student loan debt 

The Department of Education said Tuesday that it will cancel $3.9 billion in student loan debt for 208,000 students who attended the now-defunct for-profit ITT Technical Institute.
14 hours ago
FILE (Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Memphis hospital locks down after nearby shooting of 6

Authorities say people have been wounded in a shooting that led to a lockdown of a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
14 hours ago
Members of the Albuquerque Police Department standby during a unity event following the murders of ...
Amir Vera and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

Son of suspect in killings of Muslim men remains in custody, accused of making false statements

The son of a man suspected of killing at least two men in a recent spate of killings that terrorized Albuquerque, New Mexico, was ordered Monday to remain in federal custody on a charge tied to his father's case.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Appalachian floods kill at least 15 as rescue teams deploy