Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said there could be “many more” deaths due to the devastating flooding in the eastern part of the state.
“It’s going to get worse. And I think that we will be updating it, maybe even for weeks to come. … There are still so many people unaccounted for. And in this area, it’s going to be a hard task to get a firm number of folks unaccounted for,” he told CNN in an interview.
At least 25 people have died from the floods so far, Beshear said earlier on Saturday.
In a briefing later in the afternoon, Beshear outlined the death toll by county: four in Breathitt County, two in Clay County, 14 in Knott County, two in Letcher County and three in Perry County.
Beshear noted during the news conference that authorities now believe “there are only four children in this group and not six.”
“The original two children that were reported to us have turned out to be adults now,” he said. “Those are still two people that have been lost and we grieve for them, but wanted to make sure we got our most recent information out.”
He said it is forecast to rain again later on Sunday, so rescue teams are moving as fast as possible.
“The water is still high in some counties. It’s crested in most, but not all. Water systems overwhelmed, so either no water or water that’s not safe that you have to boil. Think about restrooms out in entire counties. We have one hospital that doesn’t have water. So, real challenges out there. And we’re still in this thing. Even though it’s stopped raining — and thank God it’s stopped raining — we’re still in the search and rescue mode,” Beshear told CNN.
“For right now, the forecast looks like counties below the Mountain Parkway, another inch to possibly two inches, which could be rough. That is expected to go through parts of Monday and then clear out,” he added in the briefing. “The challenge after that, it’s going to get really hot as we move in through the week.”
National Guard units from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia have made more than 660 air rescues, and there have been over 600 water rescues, Beshear told CNN.
Rescuers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife are also at the forefront of recovery efforts, he said.
“They’ve had to ultimately gather the bodies more than just about anybody else,” Beshear said. “The mission has been especially challenging and what they are experiencing firsthand is tremendously stressful and difficult.”
Even as search and rescue operations continue, the governor noted that officials are already making preparations to assist displaced people.
“To everyone in eastern Kentucky, we are going to be there for you today and in the weeks, months, and years ahead. We will get through this together,” Beshear said in a tweet Saturday.
“This is a type of flood that even an area that sees flooding has never seen in our lifetime,” Beshear told CNN after returning from an aerial tour of flooding in Breathitt County on Friday.