Earlier today, Governor Andy Beshear declared a State of Emergency due to severe flooding in Eastern Kentucky.
“This was a tough night and maybe an even tougher morning for so many of our residents,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history. The situation is dynamic and ongoing. In most places we are not seeing receding water – in fact, in most places it has not crested yet. What we are going to see coming out of this is massive property damage and we expect loss of life. Hundreds will lose their homes. And this will be yet another event that will take not months, but years, for our families to rebuild and recover from.”
Beshear added, “I also want to tell the people of Eastern Kentucky that we are going to be there for them. You are important and we want to help. This is what we do as Kentuckians – we help each other out.”
During the Governor’s morning media briefing, it was reported that at least six counties have declared local states of emergency: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley and Pike.
As part of his emergency response, Governor Beshear mobilized the Kentucky National Guard, which has 15-20 high-axle vehicles that can pass through the flooded roads to assist with delivering supplies and rescuing Kentuckians. They are also staging three helicopters.
Some people are currently stranded on their roofs; state and local agencies are working to identify and rescue these Kentuckians. There are a number of people unaccounted for.
The Kentucky State Police, as well as emergency management professionals, are fully active and responding. The Governor mentioned they have an extra helicopter on hand that can be used as needed.
Additional state agencies are all working in conjunction to perform rescue operations.
Later today, the Governor will be posting a list of shelters that are being established. The shelters will include Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, which are also experiencing some challenges including loss of power.
According to Beshear, more than 23,000 households are currently without power, and the state is working with multiple cell service providers to restore service.
The Governor said many communities in the impacted areas are also going to lose water temporarily. Water systems have already been disrupted in Martin and Pike counties. Truckloads of water were ordered and are headed to Eastern Kentucky.
Gov. Beshear said that he is expecting a break in weather conditions for a couple of hours followed by another round of rain mid-afternoon. He is hoping it won’t be more than an inch. After that, officials are hoping there is a more significant break to allow water to recede.
“I’m asking everyone to pray. There are a lot of people out there who need help and are very scared right now. And we’re doing the very best we can to reach each and every one of them,” Gov. Beshear said.
Emergency officials are reminding the public of the following steps to keep yourself safe after flooding:
- Watch your step. Floodwaters often hide sharp and dangerous debris, like broken glass and metal. Floodwater can also be contaminated with oil, gasoline or sewage.
- Wear the appropriate protective clothing and gear such as boots, gloves and safety glasses when moving debris.
- Stay away from electrical utility equipment after a storm, or if it is wet, to prevent being electrocuted. Report any utility issues to your local utility company.
- Flooded homes are hazards. Get a professional to check for loose wires, mold and hidden damage before re-entering.
- Use generators or other gas-powered machinery only outdoors and away from windows.
- Never drive into a road covered with flowing water. One foot of flowing water can sweep a car off the road; 2 feet will carry away an SUV or pickup. Even 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. Never walk or drive through swift water. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Respect barricades and posted signage. If you encounter a flooded road, turn around. You’re not only putting your own life at risk, but also the lives of first responders.
- If you encounter a dark traffic signal, treat it as a four-way stop.
For more information about KYEM, visit kyem.ky.gov.