At least 25 people have died in the floods that ravage Kentucky, a number expected to rise further, the state governor said.
It could take weeks to discover the devastation caused by the floods, as many areas are still disconnected from the rest of the state.
More rain is forecast early next week, so rescuers must act quickly.
“We must act quickly when the waters have receded tomorrow, especially before it starts to rain again,” Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said Friday. The New York Times.
Breathitt County examining magistrate Jeffrey Noble told the paper that the storms and floods had disabled telephone service for miles. He added that major roads in Jackson, the county seat, remained blocked.
“They say about 250 people are missing,” he said. “I don’t even want to talk about the dead. I’ve heard two different songs and I hope they’re both wrong.”
The local leader said he was disturbed by the stories he had heard from others and things he had seen with his own eyes, such as a truck he saw slowly swallowed by the water in the middle of the night.
“Houses are being washed away, communities are being washed away, roads are being washed away,” he said The New York Times. “I’ve heard of centennial floods, but this goes way beyond that. Our county has never seen anything like it in Kentucky history.”
The death toll rose several times on Friday. Jerry Stacy, the director of emergency management in Perry County, said their death toll had risen from one to four by the evening.
Breathitt County coroner Hargis Epperson added that at least three people have been found dead in the county. At least 12 were missing.
Knott County coroner Corey Watson worked out of a large garage at a nearby funeral home. He told the newspaper that the number of deaths in his area had risen from 11 to 14 over the course of Friday.
“People are still missing,” he said.
The dead are at least six children, four from one family.
Brittany Trejo, a relative of the four children, said they were all found within 50 meters of each other. She said they were taken by “the fury of the water”.
“They were such loving, caring, well-behaved young children,” said Mrs Trejo The times. “They liked things that all kids like.”
Mr Beshear told the press that the National Guard, state police and other state-level agencies participated in the search and rescue effort, which Friday included about 50 rescues from the air and hundreds by boat.
He added that nearly 300 people in the state have been rescued so far, about 100 of them via planes.
Jeff Hawkins has lived in Letcher County for 52 years.
“I’ve talked to several people over the past few days who were 70, 80 years old and none of them remember anything like that,” he told the paper.