Science

In a flooded Kentucky, door to door to count the dead – Science and Avenir

American rescuers are now going door to door to find victims of one of the most devastating floods to hit Kentucky as the rain returned after a few hours of calm, the state governor said Sunday.

Some mountainous areas in eastern Kentucky remain inaccessible after flooding has turned some roads into rivers, swept away bridges, swept away homes and killed at least 26 people, according to new government figures.

Damage to mobile phone antennas has complicated rescue efforts and does not allow an estimate of the number of dead and missing.

“These floods are some of the most destructive and deadly we have ever seen,” Gov. Andy Beshear said on NBC. “And when we try to get out, it’s raining!”

“We will go door to door trying to find as many people as possible. We will do it even in the rain. But the weather complicates the situation,” he added.

The Democratic governor earlier tweeted that the death toll from torrential rains that hit the eastern rural state rose from 25 to 26 overnight Wednesday to Thursday.

“We’re going to be looking for bodies for several weeks, many of which will be carried hundreds of meters,” he said on NBC.

In the city of Jackson, at the center of the hardest-hit area, rescuers and volunteers gathered on Sunday morning in the parking lot of a Walmart hypermarket before deploying.

Some handed out bottled water. The boat tied to the trailer was labeled “FEMA Rescue 4”, indicating that rescuers from the US Disaster Management Agency were on the scene.

– Risk of flash floods –

Aerial view of flooded houses in Jackson, Kentucky, USA on July 28, 2022. (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP – Michael Swensen)

Under heavy black clouds heralding new rains, the streets were covered with a thick layer of mud.

The floods hit a region whose economy had already been devastated by the decline of the mining industry, its main resource.

“They wiped out areas where there were already very few people,” Beshir said.

In parts of Kentucky, about 20 centimeters of rain fell in 24 hours, and in places the water level in the rivers suddenly rose several meters before overflowing their banks.

The National Weather Service announced Sunday a new flood risk in the East Central US, including Kentucky.

“Flash flood threat will intensify throughout the day as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms develop,” they tweeted.

President Joe Biden declared a state of “natural disaster” and sent federal reinforcements to support areas affected by “hurricanes, floods, landslides and mudslides.”

These floods are the latest manifestations of extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent due to human-induced global warming.

In December, dozens of violent tornadoes hit five central US states, mostly in western Kentucky, killing at least 79 people.

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