Kentucky floods death toll climbs to 16

·2-min read

The death toll in eastern Kentucky has risen to 16 as flooding unleashed by torrential rainfall swept through homes, washed out roads and pushed rivers and streams over their banks.

The National Guard and the State Police used helicopters and boats on Friday to rescue dozens of people from homes and vehicles in Kentucky's Appalachian coal-mining region. Video footage from local media showed floodwaters reaching the roofs of houses and turning roads into rivers.

The floods marked the second major national disaster to strike Kentucky in seven months, following a swarm of devastating tornadoes that claimed nearly 80 lives in the western part of the state in December.

The confirmed flood-related death toll on Friday rose from 15 to 16 in four of the hardest-hit counties. The chief meteorologist for Lexington-based television station WKYT tweeted that at least six children were among the dead.

The floods resulted from downpours of 15 to 25 cm of rain that fell over the region in 24 hours, a deluge that may prove unprecedented in the region's record books.

The disaster came two weeks after rain-triggered flash floods inundated the riverfront Appalachian community of Whitewood in southwestern Virginia near the Kentucky border.

At least 300 people in Kentucky have been reported rescued by emergency crews.That number will likely climb, considering that more than 100 people alone have been saved in National Guard airlifts.

On Friday afternoon, some 22,000 homes and businesses in Kentucky and 2200 in West Virginia were without power.

Flood warnings and watches remained in effect throughout the day for the eastern half of the state, as well as northeastern Tennessee and western West Virginia, where more rainfall was expected to swell waterways already well above flood stage, the National Weather Service said.

As much as 30 cm of rain has fallen in parts of the region over the last week, according to the weather service.

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Kentucky on Friday, allowing federal funding to be allocated to the state.

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