The death toll from devastating floods in Kentucky has risen to 25 and is expected to rise further, the state’s governor said Saturday as emergency services and residents continue to search for survivors.
“We have 25 confirmed dead,” Andy Beshear said at a press conference. “This balance will continue to grow.”
“Unfortunately, I believe we’re going to be looking for bodies for a few weeks,” the Democratic governor added, as heavy rains hit the east of this rural state on Wednesday night, turning some roads into rivers and forcing residents to seek shelter. on the roads. the roof of your house waiting for help.
Mr Beshir said the floods killed four children, not the six previously reported.
According to the local newspaper Lexington Herald Leader, they are four siblings, aged between 18 months and 8, who were swept away by the water when they took shelter on top of a tree with their parents.
In some areas of Kentucky, about 20 centimeters of rain fell in 24 hours, and in places the waters of the rivers suddenly rose several meters before exiting the channel.
The Governor noted that it is still difficult to estimate the number of missing people, as mobile communications have stopped working in the most affected areas, and people who escaped from heavy rains cannot reassure their families.
USA: Kentucky Floods (AFP – Sylvie HASSON)
President Joe Biden declared a state of “natural disaster” and sent federal reinforcements to support areas affected by “hurricanes, floods, landslides and mudslides.”
– Logistical problems –
National Guard reservists have carried out 650 helicopter evacuations, while state security services have carried out 750 boat evacuations, Beshear said.
There are 15 collection points open in schools, churches and natural parks.
It stopped raining in the region on Saturday, but more rain is expected on Sunday, which could create new logistical challenges for rescuers who find it difficult to reach victims with many roads closed, bridges unusable and water levels still too high. .
“Our problem will be on Sunday,” Beshear confirmed to CNN. “It’s going to rain again, and while we don’t think it will be historic rain, it will be heavy.”
Flooded homes in Jackson, Kentucky, the US state hit by a flood that killed at least 25 people (AFP – LEANDRO LOZADA)
In addition, hot weather is expected next week, and thousands of homes will be left without electricity and, therefore, air conditioners, as well as drinking water. The authorities are preparing to set up “cooling centers” with portable generators for the most vulnerable segments of the population and distribute water.
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.
Ironically, these tornadoes have helped Kentucky better prepare for natural disasters, the governor said.
“We learned a lot in western Kentucky from those devastating tornadoes seven months ago,” he said. Caravans that temporarily relocated victims of last winter’s tornadoes have been sent to the east of the state, where they should arrive as soon as possible.