The death toll has now reached at least 28 and continues to rise, due to the flooding that has ravaged more than a dozen eastern Kentucky counties. And although the rain has stopped, more rain was forecasted for Monday night.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is working with teams from other states to help organize relief efforts in eastern part of the state, and they will be providing ongoing help to churches and pastors in areas impacted by the flooding.
Many of the deaths have been reported from Knott County. Jamie Reynolds, the associational mission strategist for the Three Forks Baptist Association in Hazard, encouraged people to get trained for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief work and to help support KYDR.
“The only way to serve with Kentucky Disaster Relief is to be trained and be ready when the call does go out,” he said.
During a Saturday press briefing at the State Capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear said: “Right now, the forecast for counties south of the Mountain Parkway is for another inch to possibly two inches, which could be rough. The challenge after the rain ends on Monday, is that it’s going to get really hot.”
Death toll rising
The governor said there has been well over a thousand water and helicopter rescues for stranded residents in the flooded areas.
“The Kentucky National Guard has rescued 404 individuals by air, the Tennessee National Guard 224 additional people, and the West Virginia National Guard 36.”
The KNG has also rescued 19 people and two dogs by boat, and Kentucky State Police have performed or assisted in 624 water rescues, while Fish and Wildlife boat crews have transported 125 people.
“We’re still trying to get an accurate way to count missing persons when we can’t get to certain areas,” he said.
“Cell service is still down in so many areas. While we are getting some numbers, until we get full cell service up, you could assume there are hundreds of people that might be fine, but their loved ones have not been able to establish contact with them yet.”
Tracking down missing family members
Kentucky State Police are working in those areas to help track down missing family members.
Beshear noted that no damage estimate is available, as there are still many areas that cannot be reached.
“But I can’t imagine that it’s not going to be in the tens, if not the hundreds of millions of dollars, but we’re just not there yet, still being in search and rescue mode. I do believe that this will qualify for individual assistance under FEMA. That would provide assistance to uninsured folks.”
President Joe Biden has already issued a major disaster declaration for 13 counties, to aid state and local governments in rescue and recovery efforts. FEMA already has some personnel in Kentucky, anticipating the granting of individual assistance, as well.