It was raining heavily Kentucky once again raising fears of further devastating flooding, which has already killed 35 people and left hundreds more missing.
Another round of downpours hit flooded mountain communities on Monday as more bodies emerged from the sodden landscape, and the state’s governor warned that strong winds could bring down trees and utility poles.
Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll had risen to 35 and hundreds of people remained missing for five days after one of the country’s poorest regions was inundated with nearly a foot of rain.
Water poured down the slopes of the hills, into the valleys and ravines, swallowing entire cities. On the steep slopes, some people were slippery.
With the saturated ground unable to absorb any more water, bridges collapsed under the weight of the flood, isolating cities and towns and hampering rescue missions.
Roads are impassable, landslides create additional hazards, and many houses have been destroyed. The victims include four siblings, aged between two and eight, who were washed away from the top of the family’s trailer in County Nott.
Family members identified the children to the media as Chance the Noble, two; Neva Shlyachtsits, two; Riley Noble Jr., six; and Madison Noble, eight.
At a press conference in the state capital of Frankfurt, Beshear said that among other things, residents now had to contend with strong winds.
“If things weren’t hard enough for the people of this region, they’re getting rain right now,” Beshear said. “Just like a strong wind, think about how saturated the ground was… it could knock down poles, it could knock down trees. That’s why people need to be careful.”
With several western states grappling with wildfires, extreme heat and a prolonged drought, Kamala Harris traveled to Miami on Monday to announce a $1 billion disaster relief package exacerbated by the climate crisis . Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) briefed the vice president on the many disasters that hit the country at the same time.
“Our communities are facing extreme weather that is being exacerbated by the climate crisis, including hurricanes, floods, drought, extreme heat and wildfires,” Harris said before making an announcement.
The White House said in a statement: “We know the effects of the climate crisis are here, and that we must invest in building resilience to protect our communities, infrastructure and economy.”
As Kentucky braces for more flash flooding, state officials raced against time to help communities before the coming heat adds to the collective suffering. Beshir warned that if the rain stopped, the scorching heat would bring its own dangers.
About 12,000 Kentuckians are without power as a result of the damage to their homes and businesses. About 300 are in storage, according to the Associated Press.
To the west, wildfires in California and Montana grew to a much larger scale last weekend. The McKinney Fire in the Klamath National Forest in northern California is growing out of control, fueled by thunderstorms and strong gusty winds, the AP reports.
Montana is battling a massive wildfire around the town of Elmo that has grown to 11 square miles (28 square kilometers). Strong winds also add to the threat there, along with scorching temperatures reaching 96F (36C).