Death Toll Reaches 16, Flooding Rescue Efforts Continue

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released new information on Friday about the areas of eastern Kentucky impacted by flooding. The death toll has reached 16, with 11 fatalities in Knott County, two each in Letcher and Clay counties, and one in Perry County. Beshear said in a Friday morning update that he expects that number to “get a lot higher.”

President Joe Biden ordered federal aid on Friday to assist with recovery efforts in 13 counties. Beshear said federal funding is available to the commonwealth, eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis. The counties include Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, and Wolfe.

Beshear declared a state of emergency for Kentucky on Thursday. “As of now, 12 counties and two cities have reported states of emergency. The counties are Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley, Pike, Lee, Perry, Leslie, Magoffin, Johnson, and Knott,” Beshear said. “The state of emergency I signed yesterday covers every county in Kentucky. If I didn’t read your county name here, we are still responding; we still have the tools that we need. The City of Beattyville and the City of Paintsville are on here, too, and I believe the City of Hazard also has (declared an emergency) as well.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray signed an official order on Friday to speed relief to flood-impacted areas. The order temporarily suspends certain restrictions for commercial vehicle drivers assisting in the flood recovery efforts. The order will remain in effect until Aug. 15, 2022. Beshear said rescue efforts cannot reach some areas because portions of 28 state roads remain blocked.

Kentucky launched the Team Eastern Kentucky Relief Fund Thursday afternoon. Since the launch shortly before 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, the site received 1,388 donations and collected more than $229,000 to benefit those affected by the flooding.

Anyone with missing family members in the area should contact Kentucky State Police Post 13 in Hazard at 606-435-6069 or [email protected].

As we did with western Kentucky cities impacted by tornadoes last year, the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) is helping connect eastern Kentucky cities devastated by this week’s flooding with those who can assist. KLC will continue to monitor, communicate, and keep a list of needs as we become aware of them in eastern Kentucky cities. If you know of equipment or services you can provide or have specific questions, please contact KLC Member Services Manager Terri Johnson at 859-977-3700.