National Guard soldiers rushed to distribute bottled water in flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky as forecasters warned more rain was coming to the area.
In the days following the historic floods that submerged the Appalachian region, water availability emerged as a concern for victims after floodwaters severely damaged water supply systems. As donations poured into the area, water was a top priority, along with cleaning supplies.
“We’re moving the water as fast as we can,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday.
National Guard soldiers had distributed more than 2,400 cases of water by early Wednesday, the governor said, as intense heat and humidity added to the misery as people continued to shovel out the huge wreckage left by floods that hit in the middle of the night one week. from.
KENTUCKY FLOODS FOLLOWED BY HEAT WAVE
Water service has been restored for many people in the area, the governor said. But work is continuing on the badly damaged water networks. Other systems were “wiped out,” Beshear said. In some areas, repairing water systems could take weeks or even months, he said.
“It will take a lot of time and money to restore what has been destroyed,” he said.
Water crews from across the state are helping with repairs, Beshear said.
Beshear said a special legislative session will likely be needed to design a relief package for the flood-hit region. The governor holds the power to reconvene lawmakers for a special session.
Beshear said a state relief package should include assistance with repairing water systems to save area ratepayers from paying for repair costs through higher water rates.
“Because otherwise they will go to taxpayers,” he said. “So people who just lost everything that is rebuilding would see their water rates skyrocket in what it would cost.”
As sweltering heat and humidity continued to be a concern Thursday, the National Weather Service warned of more rain in the forecast for the region. Slow-moving thunderstorms could dump heavy rain and bring more flooding Thursday and Friday to areas still reeling from massive flooding a week ago, the weather service said.
Scattered thunderstorms with strong winds were expected mainly Thursday afternoon and evening. In addition to heavy rain, storms could produce strong and damaging gusts of wind.
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The statewide death toll from the historic flooding is 37, the governor said. Amid the massive cleanup, families were preparing to bury loved ones killed in the floods. Initial expenses from a relief fund opened by Beshear were distributed to pay the funeral expenses of flood victims.
The outpouring of support was evident across the region. Volunteers helped remove debris from homes, while others served meals. Beshear said it was a time for people to lean on each other and urged them to seek help to deal with the trauma.
“Remember, it’s OK to not be OK,” the Democratic governor said. “I don’t think our brains or our hearts are designed to deal with trauma and loss at this level.”
Crews searching for streams in boats and combing debris-choked stream banks rescued more than 1,300 people and crews were still trying to reach some people cut off by flooding or mudslides. A few thousand customers still lacked power in eastern Kentucky. Emergency shelters and state parks in the area housed hundreds of residents who fled destroyed or badly damaged homes. Many others are hosted by relatives and friends.
Cooling centers have been opened after forecasters warned of the risk of heat-related illnesses.
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President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to flooded counties after 8 to 10 1/2 inches (20 to 27 centimeters) of rain fell in just 48 hours last week in the mountainous region of Appalachia.
Flooding also affected areas just across the border in Virginia and West Virginia.