State of emergency declared due to severe flooding in eastern Kentucky

Gov. Andy Beshear said the declaration will allow resources to flow to the areas most affected by flooding.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KBSI) – Gov. Andy Beshear declared a State of Emergency due to severe flooding in Eastern Kentucky that has left at least three people dead and completely swept away homes and roads.

“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.”

At least six counties have declared local states of emergency including Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley and Pike.

State and local agencies are currently working to rescue people who are stranded on their roofs. There are also a number of people unaccounted for.

Gov. 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.

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.

Shelters that are being established and will include Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park.

Governor Beshear said more than 23,000 households are currently without power, and the state is working with multiple cell service providers to restore service.

He also said many communities in the impacted areas are also going to lose water temporarily. Truckloads of water have been ordered and are headed to Eastern Kentucky.

“I also want to tell the people of Eastern Kentucky that we are going to be there for them.” Gov. Beshear said. “You are important and we want to help. This is what we do as Kentuckians – we help each other out.”

The governor provided several 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 Kentucky Emergency Management, visit kyem.ky.gov.

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