Extra rain, extra our bodies in flooded Kentucky mountain cities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Another storm hit flooded Kentucky mountain communities Monday as more bodies emerged from dry land, and the governor warned that high winds could present a threat. other threats – fallen trees and power poles.

Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll rose to 37 while hundreds remained unaccounted for for five days after one of the nation’s poorest areas was flooded with nearly a foot of rain. The water spilled down the hillsides and into the valleys and valleys, submerging entire towns. Landslides carried some people on steep slopes.

Beshear suggests that many of those unaccounted for will be located when cell phone service resumes.

“As mobile service resumes, we see a lot of people finding the people they love and care about, so look forward to those stories,” he said.

Radar indicated that up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) of rain fell on Sunday, and the National Weather Service warned that slow-moving showers and thunderstorms could cause more flash flooding through morning. Tuesday.

“If things weren’t hard enough for the people of this area, they’re getting rain right now,” Beshear said Monday at the Capitol in Frankfort. “As well as with regards to high winds – think how saturated the ground is.” Wind “can knock down electricity poles, can knock down trees. So people need to be careful.”

An approaching heatwave means “it’s going to get even harder when the rain stops,” the governor said. “We need to make sure that everyone finally settles down at that point.”

Chris Campbell, president of the Letcher Funeral Home in Whitesburg, said he is starting to arrange burials for those who have passed away.

“These people, we know most of them. We’re a small community,” he said of the town about 110 miles (177 km) southeast of Lexington. “It affects everyone.”

His funeral home recently buried a 67-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack while trying to escape the house when the water rose. Campbell knows her boyfriend well, he said.

On Monday, he met the family of a husband and wife in their 70s, whom he also knows. He said it was difficult to explain the extent of the loss.

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“I don’t know how to explain it or what to say, to be honest,” he said. “I cannot imagine what they are going through. I don’t think there’s really a word for it. “

Campbell said his 90-year-old grandmother lost her entire house in 1958. She managed to escape to a neighbor’s house with just a few photos. Everything else is gone, he said.

More than 12,000 electricity customers are still without power. At least 300 people are in shelters.

Flooding hit last week when eight to 10 and a half inches (20 to 27 centimeters) of rain fell in just 48 hours in areas of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and western Virginia.

The disaster is the latest in a series of disasters hit parts of the United States this summer, including St. Louis. Scientists warn that climate change are making such events more popular.

Meanwhile, a nighttime curfew was in place in response to reports of looting in two of the devastated communities – Breathitt County and the nearby city of Hindman in Knott County.

Breathitt County announced a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The only exceptions are for ambulances, first responders and commuters.

“I hate to impose a curfew, but looting will absolutely not be tolerated. Our friends and neighbors have lost a lot. We cannot stand by and allow them to lose what they left behind,” District Attorney Brendon Miller said in a Facebook post.

Breathitt County Sheriff John Hollan said the decision to curfew was made after 18 reports of looting. He said that people were stealing private properties where houses were damaged. No arrests have been made.

Hindman Mayor Tracy Neice also announced a dusk-to-sunrise curfew because of looting, broadcaster WYMT reported. Both curfews will be in place until further notice, officials said.

Last week’s flooding extended to parts of West Virginia and Virginia. President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to flooded counties, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping. Another relief effort came from the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, which had scheduled an open practice session Tuesday at Rupp Arena and a charity competition.

Coach John Calipari said the players approached him about the idea.

“Me and the whole team are looking forward to doing what we can,” Calipari said.

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Associated Press writers Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky; Gary B. Graves of Lexington, Kentucky; Mike Pesoli in the air with the National Guard; Leah Willingham of Charleston, West Virginia; and Julie Walker of New York City contributed to this report.

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