WKYT team coverage of the devastating eastern Ky. flooding
EASTERN KENTUCKY, Ky. (WKYT) - The death toll continues to rise in connection with the devastating flooding in eastern Kentucky.
Governor Andy Beshear confirmed to WKYT that there are eight deaths:
We know of two in Perry County, one in Knott County, and one in Clay County. We don’t know yet where those other four are. Beshear said there are a number of people are also unaccounted for. He expects the death toll to reach double digits.
The governor said 30 people have been airlifted out of flooded areas so far, and that number is growing.
Multiple counties are dealing with the aftermath of severe flash flooding. The Kentucky Mesonet reports parts of the region got more than six inches of rain in a 24-hour period. The National Weather Service declared flood emergencies and warned of life-threatening flash floods.
Gov. Beshear gave another update on the flooding situation during his weekly Team Kentucky Briefing:
Governor Beshear has declared a state of emergency for the communities impacted and activated the National Guard.
Beshear calls this one of the “worst and most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history.” Beshear says the damage is massive with hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.
Beshear said it will likely take some families years to rebuild and recover from the flooding.
Gov. Beshear says there are roughly 23,000 customers without power statewide in Kentucky and that number is expected to go up. Water service has also been disrupted in some areas. Beshear says the state has already ordered truckloads of water to the impacted areas.
IMPORTANT: If you have a missing loved one in Perry, Breathitt, Knott, or Letcher counties, DO NOT call 911. Instead, you need to call the local Kentucky State Police post at 606-435-6069. If the line rings busy, keep trying.
The governor says the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has been set up to help the areas affected by flooding. Click here to learn more about how you can help.
Officials said KY 15 will be closed beginning at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday as a precaution as floodwaters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River approach the top of Panbowl Dam.
State officials are also recommending that homes and businesses in the floodplain of Panbowl Lake be evacuated.
Gov. Beshear says the National Guard rescued staff members that got stuck inside a school in Breathitt County. He says people have also been rescued from roofs and even trees in the county.
The Lexington Fire Department says they sent a team to help with water rescues. They were part of the crew that rescued people trapped in the Riverside Christian School in the Lost Creek area.
We spoke with Andy Keck, a missionary from the school.
“We actually had a mission team that was down at the school working at the time and they lost their van and they also had to be rescued and now they’re trying to find their way back to Pennsylvania,” said Keck.
The city of Jackson is suffering its own flooding issues, but some of the greatest devastation is out in the county. At one point, 12 different water rescues were going on just in the Lost Creek area.
County leaders say they’re still working to assess the damage, injuries and account for people in the community.
Breathitt County Emergency Management opened a shelter for people displaced by flooding at the courthouse overnight. Director Chris Friley says the Old Montessori School off of Jett Drive will serve as a more permanent shelter, once crews are able to staff it.
Breathitt County Schools has posted on Facebook that their WiFi is available for public use. All are welcome to go there and try to connect with family or friends.
If you need a place to stay officials are going to be at the Lee’s College Gym in Jackson. If you have pets, you’re asked to go to the building behind the medical center off of Jet Drive.
“It’s the worst we’ve had in quite a while,” Friley said early Thursday morning. “It’s county-wide again. There’s several spots that are still not accessible to rescue crews.”
Friley said crews from Wolfe County were expected to help with rescues along KY-476.
Breathitt County Sheriff John Hollan says his office’s phones have no service. Deputies are still active, though many roads are impassable.
We talked to many people who lost everything there.
“My daughter came in about five minutes after 8:00 this morning. She woke me up. She said, ‘momma you’ve got to get up. The water’s in the yard,’” Gail Anderson said.
Gail and Rob Anderson live in the little white house at the corner of Town Hill Road and Sewell Street.-- the little white house that Rob now fears is a total loss.
The Perry County Sheriff’s Office confirmed at least one flooding-related death in the county.
Perry County dispatchers say flood waters washed out roads and bridges and knocked homes off of their foundations.
Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini has declared a State of Emergency for the City of Hazard. The city posted on Facebook, saying crews are doing everything they can to help people. The city is urging drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
In the declaration, Mayor Mobelini cites the excessive amounts of rainfall in the past two days, which has resulted in major flooding, as the catalyst for the state of emergency.
The most severe damage in the area says they saw is at Buckhorn School. The creek next to the school jumped its banks and destroyed the parking lot before sending a wall of water and debris into the school, breaking windows and knocking down doors.
Water rescue crews and the National Guard are set up in Hazard. Our crew there has seen several crews load up and speed off to calls, even around 5:00, 18 hours or so after the floods first hit.
Helicopters are still circling around looking for people in need. We know troops and helicopters from West Virginia are also responding here. Governor Jim Justice said two Blackhawks and two other aircrafts, as well as 14 soldiers have been deployed.
The parking lot of WKYT’s Hazard sister station WYMT flooded overnight.
Perry County Schools announced on Twitter they are opening the cafeterias at East Perry and West Perry at 1 p.m. Thursday for anyone who needs food or shelter. According to Hazard city officials, emergency shelters have also opened at the First Presbyterian Church and Gospel Light Church.
Below is a list of the Perry County shelters.
- First Presbyterian Church
- East Perry Elementary
- West Perry Elementary
- Gospel Light Baptist Church
- Second Creek Church of God
- Buckhorn Lake State Resort Lodge
The Perry County Advocate reports crews worked at least five water rescues near Hazard.
The Knott County Coroner confirmed at least one death in that county and told our sister station, WYMT, that multiple people are still missing.
This astonishing video shows the devastating flooding situation in the Hindman area:
The Mayor of Hindman, Tracy Neice, said the flooding that hit Eastern Kentucky Wednesday night and Thursday morning is some of the worst he has ever seen.
Throughout the city, there are several major water line breaks and reports of a gas line break.
The new Hindman pool is completely destroyed and the building next to it fell into the pool, according to the Mayor.
There are also major power outages and the city’s lot of vehicles and generators was submerged, destroying a lot of the city’s key machinery.
A drone video obtained by WKYT outlines just how bad the damage is in Hindman:
The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department says the Wayland and Garrett communities are flooding.
Pictures show water covering roads, sidewalks, and a playground. Floyd County declared a state of emergency earlier this week because of earlier flooding.
In the hard-hit City of Wayland, officials are transporting rescued homeowners and families to the Wayland Fire Department. Sheriff Hunt is urging homeowners in areas likely to take on water to ‘get out now.’
Many phone lines in the county are down. The sheriff’s office says it has been receiving requests for help through text and/or on Facebook.
Sheriff Hunt says the office has deployed boats into the flood waters along with acquiring private boats to assist in rescue efforts.
Route 122, Route 7 and Route 550 are currently shut down in Floyd County due to high water.
“People are going to run into high water pretty quick in any of these areas,” said Sheriff Hunt. “It has been hard for us to get boats in close enough range to get to certain houses. The water is pretty swift and unfortunately there’s a lot of distance to travel to get to some of these houses.”
The Floyd County Community Center on Route 80 is open to anyone in need of a dry shelter, Sheriff Hunt says.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12 says multiple roads are blocked because of flooding and downed trees and power lines.
The roads include KY-610 in Virgie and KY-3414 at multiple sites.
Viewers are also sending us pictures and videos of flooding and storm damage from throughout the region. Hailee Hawkins sent us this surveillance video of flooding the Virgie area of Pike County:
Emergency management is still working to reach the part of the county they say has been hit the hardest.
Oneida is located in the northern part of Clay County. Director of Emergency Management David Watson said they’ve received numerous calls of people trapped in their homes. He said the roads to get to Oneida are blocked off and many bridges are washed out, making it impossible to reach the Oneida community. They said it took their team four hours to drive just eight miles trying to get there.
“The piece I think that’s most disturbing is most of our residents in Oneida and northern Clay County are just now getting their homes back. Just now getting their homes fixed to where they’re livable from the floods two years ago in March. As I drove back through there this morning and just seen the devastation that this water had created on those same homeowners, that’s gonna go through that same process again, it’s just very saddening,” Watson said.
Clay County Judge-Executive Johnny Johnson said he’s worried about the people of Oneida.
“What’s really scary is we’ve got a lot of elder people in that area and we’re scared because they don’t have oxygen, the electric’s out, they don’t have water,” Johnson said.
Watson said the county is going to rely heavily on donations to get them back to normal. They’ll need items like cleaning supplies, food and water.
If you have pictures or videos of flooding in your neighborhood or county, share them with WKYT by clicking the link below:
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