Infrastructure damage hampers flood recovery in Kentucky

Severe_Weather_Appalachia_31272 Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, center, answers question from residents of Knott County Ky., that have been displaced by floodwaters at the Knott County Sportsplex in Leburn, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_30886 Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, center, speaks to the media and residents of Knott County that have been displaced by floodwaters at the Knott County Sportsplex in Leburn, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_12589 Paul Williams, Luthery Instructor at the Applachian School of Luthery loads instruments he hopes to save that were damaged in the floodwaters of Troublesome Creek into his truck in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_39929 A car lays overturned in Troublesome Creek in downtown Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_17514 Stockpiles of wood lay destroyed from the floodwaters of Troublesome Creek at the Applachian School of Luthery workshop and museum in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_06051 Paul Williams, Luthery Instructor at the Applachian School of Luthery inspects the damage to one of his students projects caused by the floodwaters of Troublesome Creek at the workshop and museum in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_20226 Paul Williams, luthery instructor at the Applachian School of Luthery inspects the damage at the workshop and museum in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_97723 The high water mark from floodwaters from Troublesome Creek mark the wall below instrument forms hanging on the wall at the Applachian School of Luthery inspects the damage at the workshop and museum in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_93856 Paul Williams inspects the damage to a dobro guitar damaged by floodwaters from Troublesome Creek at the Applachian School of Luthery workshop and museum in Hindman, Ky., Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_25460 Phillip Michael Caudill displays a drone photo of his flooded home outside his temporary room at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. The state park is serving a as a shelter for flooding victims. Caudill and his family had to flee their home in Wayland, Ky., early Thursday as floodwaters rushed in when heavy rains pounded eastern Kentucky.
APTOPIX_Severe_Weather_Appalachia_97281 In this aerial image, the river is still high around the homes in Breathitt County, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Recovery has begun in many of the narrow hollers after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more at least two dozen people. A layer of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_28591 In this aerial image, a home in Eastern Kentucky is washed onto a road on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains during the week flooded many areas of Kentucky killing multiple people.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_14458 The river is still high around the homes in Breathitt County, Ky., on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Recovery has begun in many of the narrow hollers after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more than two dozen people. A layer of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_14414 In this aerial image, some homes in Breathitt County, Ky., are still surrounded by water on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing more than two dozen people.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_98898 In this aerial image, a car drives over a bridge in Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains during the week flooded many areas of Kentucky killing at least two dozen people.
Severe_Weather_Appalachia_22545 In this aerial photo, some homes in Breathitt County, Ky., are still surrounded by water on Saturday, July 30, 2022, after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing multiple people. A thin film of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes.
In this aerial image, the football field at Breathitt County High School on Saturday, July 30, 2022, is covered in mud after historic rains flooded many areas of Eastern Kentucky killing multiple people. A thin film of mud from the retreating waters covers many cars and homes.
Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from their flood ravaged homes at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Ky., Saturday, July 30, 2022.
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HINDMAN, Ky. (AP) — Damage to critical infrastructure and the arrival of more heavy rains hampered efforts Sunday to help Kentucky residents hit by recent massive flooding, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

As residents in Appalachia tried to slowly piece their lives back together, flash flood warnings were issued for at least eight eastern Kentucky counties. The National Weather Service said radar indicated up to 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) of rain fell Sunday in some areas, with more rain possible.

Beshear said the death toll climbed to 28 on Sunday from last week’s storms, a number he expected to rise significantly and that it could take weeks to find all the victims.

Thirty-seven people were unaccounted for as search and rescue operations continued early Sunday, according to a daily briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A dozen shelters were open for flood victims in Kentucky with 388 occupants.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau, told The Associated Press about 400 people have been rescued by National Guard helicopter. He estimated that the guard had rescued close to 20 by boat from hard-to-access areas.

At a news conference in Knott County, Beshear praised the fast arrival of FEMA trailers but noted the numerous challenges.

“We have dozens of bridges that are out — making it hard to get to people, making it hard to supply people with water,” he said. “We have entire water systems down that we are working hard to get up.”

Beshear said it will remain difficult, even a week from now, to “have a solid number on those accounted for. It’s communications issues — it’s also not necessarily, in some of these areas, having a firm number of how many people were living there in the first place.”

The governor also talked about the selflessness he’s seen among Kentucky residents suffering from the floods.

“Many people that have lost everything but they’re not even getting goods for themselves, they’re getting them for other people in their neighborhoods, making sure that their neighbors are OK,” Beshear said.

Among the stories of survival that continue to emerge, a 17-year-old girl whose home in Whitesburg was flooded Thursday put her dog in a plastic container and swam 70 yards to safety on a neighbor’s roof. Chloe Adams waited hours until daylight before a relative in a kayak arrived and moved them to safety, first taking her dog, Sandy, and then the teenager.

“My daughter is safe and whole tonight,” her father, Terry Adams, said in a Facebook post. “We lost everything today … everything except what matters most.”

On an overcast morning in downtown Hindman, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southeast of Louisville, a crew cleared debris piled along storefronts. Nearby, a vehicle was perched upside down in Troublesome Creek, now back within its debris-littered banks.

Workers toiled nonstop through mud-caked sidewalks and roads.

“We’re going to be here unless there’s a deluge,” said Tom Jackson, who is among the workers.

Jackson was with a crew from Corbin, Kentucky, where he’s the city’s recycling director, about a two-hour drive from Hindman.

His crew worked all day Saturday, and the mud and debris were so thick that they managed to clear one-eighth of a mile of roadway. The water rushing off the hillsides had so much force that it bent road signs.

“I’ve never seen water like this,” Jackson said.

Attendance was down for the Sunday morning service at Hindman’s First Baptist Church. Parishioners who rarely miss a service were instead back home tending to cleanup duties caused by floodwaters and mud.

The Rev. Mike Caudill said his church has pitched in to help the reeling community, serving meals and setting up tents for people to pick up cleaning and personal hygiene supplies.

Totes filled with clothes and photos were stacked on retired teacher Teresa Perry Reynolds’ front porch, along with furniture too badly damaged to salvage.

“There are memories there,” she said of the family photos she and her husband were able to gather.

Her husband’s wallet, lost as they escaped the fast-rising water Thursday to go to a neighbor’s house, was later found.

“All I know is I’m homeless and I’ve got people taking care of me,” she said.

Parts of eastern Kentucky received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches (20-27 centimeters) over 48 hours. About 13,000 utility customers in Kentucky remained without power Sunday, poweroutage.us reported.

President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to more than a dozen Kentucky counties.

Last week’s flooding extended to West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six southern counties, and to Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin also made an emergency declaration that enabled officials to mobilize resources across the flooded southwest portion of the state.

___

Raby reported from Charleston, West Virginia. Associated Press writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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National News | Weather News

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flooding | kentucky

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