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Rescuers face renewed rain as Kentucky flood death toll rises to 26 – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

Rescuers in Kentucky are conducting door-to-door searches in worsening weather conditions as they prepare for a long and grueling effort to find victims of floods that have ravaged the east of the state, the governor said Sunday.

Some areas in the mountain region are still inaccessible after floods turned roads into rivers, undermined bridges, swept away homes and killed at least 26 people. Poor cellphone reception also hampered rescue efforts.

“This is one of the most devastating, deadly floods we’ve seen in our history … And at a time we’re trying to dig out, it’s raining,” Gov. Andy Beshear told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“We will work on going door to door, work on finding as many people as possible again. We will even work in the rain. But the weather makes it difficult,” Beshear said.

The governor had previously pushed the death toll from the flooding caused by torrential rains that began Wednesday to 26 and tweeted that the number will continue to rise.

“We’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a quarter mile or more, from where they were lost,” Beshear said on Meet the Press.

The flash floods hit a region of the state already suffering from crushing poverty – fueled by the decline of the coal industry, which was the heart of its economy – and took everything away from those who could least afford it.

“It wiped out areas where people didn’t have as much to begin with,” Beshear said.

– Danger of further flooding –

Some areas in eastern Kentucky had reported more than eight inches of rain in 24 hours.

The water level of the North Fork of the Kentucky River near Whitesburg rose to a staggering 20 feet in a matter of hours, well above its previous record of 14.7 feet.

The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center warned of possible flooding in part of the United States, including central and eastern Kentucky, on Sunday.

“The risk of flash flooding will increase throughout the day as heavy showers and thunderstorms develop and reach increases,” it said on Twitter.

President Joe Biden has issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky floods, allowing federal assistance to complement state and local recovery efforts.

The floods in eastern Kentucky are the latest in a series of extreme weather events that scientists say are a dead giveaway of climate change.

Nearly 60 people were killed by a tornado in western Kentucky in December 2021 — a disaster Beshear said offers lessons for current efforts at the other end of the state.

“We learned many lessons about these devastating tornadoes about seven months ago in western Kentucky, so we’re providing as much assistance as we can and we’re rushing to help from across the state,” he told CNN on Saturday.

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