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Devastating Flood Kills Many in Kentucky

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Governor Andy Beshear (D) announced a state of emergency after severe catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky left eight people dead, scores of homes flooded, and others totally carried away from their foundations.

On WKYT-TV, Beshear said, “It’s awful.” “We’ve been through two and a half years of a pandemic, multiple ice storms—the worst tornado event that we’ve ever seen—multiple rounds of flooding, and this one, which is going to be deadly and devastating.”

The death toll is expected to reach multiple digits once the waters subside, according to Beshear, with many families having lost everything. They described it as one of the worst and most devastating natural disasters that Kentucky has ever seen. Over the course of the day and night on Thursday morning, severe rains lashed Appalachia, Kentucky, as rivers swelled, and inhabitants were forced to flee their homes in search of higher ground until rescue crews could reach them.

Certain roads were impassable because of the six inches of rain that had fallen in some locations, according to the National Weather Service. More snowfall is expected to fall through Friday. However, residents in some of the most highly affected regions have been saved by the US National Guard using zodiac boats, according to Beshear, who estimates that air support has saved between 20 and 30 individuals. Similarly, they watch as trailers, homes, and automobiles float away.

In one instance, a mother and her crippled child were left on a porch until rescuers arrived, WKYT-TV reports. To preserve their possessions, some have waded headfirst into the raging river. In Breathitt County, Krystal Holbrook told a reporter that she and her family ran against the flood to retrieve items before it was too late for them.

According to Holbrook, it appeared to be a gigantic lake.

Approximately 23,000 people in the state were left without electricity, resulting in the loss of phone and internet connections, as well as the water supply. Beshear added that after seeking federal aid personally from President Biden, the state ordered boatloads of water for the disaster’s affected families, among many other supplies. The governor said in a tweet that the damage suffered is enormous, and recovery will be a long-term effort. “This assistance is critical to our efforts and essential for our people.”

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WKYT spoke to a homeowner who said he and other flood victims are still waiting for federal aid from the March 2021 floods. “I’ve done all the paperwork, sent in the pictures like they said, and I still haven’t gotten a penny,” Michael Hollan, a Jackson resident, said. 

According to Beshear, the Team Eastern Kentucky Relief Efforts Fund was formed on Thursday, with all proceeds going to the people who have been affected by the calamity. “It’s a way that we can make sure that we’re not just there for them today, tomorrow, and next week, but it’s going to take a long time to rebuild,” he said. “I wish I could tell you why we’ve been hit by so much between pandemic and ice storms, tornadoes, and now this, but what I can tell you is we see God in the response and the special people that are out there and the way people open their homes and their hearts to help each other,” the governor added. “Kentucky, stay strong.”