The death toll in the eastern Kentucky flooding has risen to 25, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced in a press briefing on Saturday morning.
The fatalities were confirmed across five different counties, including “four in Breathitt County; two in Clay County; 14 in Knott County (10 adults and four children); two in Letcher County; and three in Perry County,” the governor’s office stated. Beshear noted during his press briefing that the death toll “is likely to increase.”
Areas of eastern Kentucky received up to ten and a half inches of rain over 48 hours before Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The governor noted that the rain has stopped as of Saturday and that it will be dry until Sunday afternoon.
Counties below the Mountain Parkway road could receive up to an inch or possibly two inches of rain until Monday, Beshear stated.
“We continue to pray for the families who have suffered unfathomable loss,” Beshear said. “We also pray for the first responders. This mission has been especially challenging, and what they are experiencing firsthand is tremendously stressful and difficult. We thank all those involved for their tireless efforts.”
Since the flooding began earlier this week, first responders from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia have rescued at least 1,432 people as of Saturday.
Around 18,000 people still remain without power, as residents in Breathitt, Knott, Letcher, and Perry counties may not receive power until next week.
The Biden administration has declared a federal disaster so that relief money can be directed toward counties affected by the floods, according to the Associated Press (AP).
In Hazard, Kentucky, located in the southeastern portion of the state, seven of nine bridges within the city are “impassable,” CNN reported. A Baptist church within the city was also completely destroyed.
One 17-year-old girl in Whitesburg, Kentucky, woke up early Thursday morning to flood waters rushing into her home, which prompted her to find her dog and swim through the cold waters to wait on a roof for five hours before her cousin rescued them with a kayak, CNN noted.
The flooding has also extended into southwestern West Virginia and western Virginia, prompting Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to declare a state of emergency in their respective states, AP noted.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement on Friday:
My heart breaks for the Kentucky families mourning the loss of loved ones as flooding continues. Thank you to all first responders working to prevent further tragedy. I’m monitoring this situation and working with federal, state, and local officials to assist in any way possible.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Twitter Thursday, “If you are a Kentuckian in need of assistance with federal agencies following the devastating flooding in Eastern Kentucky, you can contact my office.” He added that he was “[p]raying for all those affected.”
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.