The water rose so quickly in some places that rivers burst their banks.
The death toll from the devastating Kentucky floods has risen to 25 and is expected to climb further, the state's governor said Saturday, as emergency services and residents continued to search for survivors.
< p class="e-p">We have 25 confirmed dead, Andy Beshear said during a press conference. This balance sheet will continue to rise.
I sadly believe we will be finding bodies for weeks, the Democratic governor added, as torrential rains battered the east of this rural state overnight Wednesday through Thursday, turning some roads into rivers and forcing residents to take refuge on the roof of their house while waiting for help.
Mr. Beshear said four children died in the floods, not six as previously reported. According to the local newspaper Lexington Herald Leader, it is about four brothers and sisters aged from one and a half to eight years old, who were swept away by the waters while they had taken refuge on the top of the mountain. a tree with their parents.
Parts of Kentucky received about 20 centimeters of rain in 24 hours and, in places, the waters of the rivers suddenly rose several meters, before get out of bed.
The governor noted that it was still difficult to estimate the number of missing, as mobile phone services are no longer working in the worst affected areas and people who have escaped the torrential rains cannot reassure their family.
President Joe Biden declared a state of natural disaster and released federal reinforcements to support areas affected by the storm, flooding, landslides and mudslides. National Guard reservists have carried out 650 evacuations by helicopter since Wednesday, while state security services have carried out 750 by boat, according to Beshear, who said the operations were extremely stressful and difficult. for rescuers.
Fifteen reception centers have been opened in schools, churches and natural parks.
It stopped raining on Saturday in the region, but more rain is expected on Sunday, which may pose new logistical problems for rescuers who have difficulty reaching victims, as many roads are blocked, bridges are unusable and the water level is still too high. Our problem will be Sunday, Beshear confirmed to CNN.
“It's going to start raining again and, although we don't think it will be not historic rains, it will be hard.
—Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky
In addition, hot weather is expected next week. Thousands of homes are deprived of electricity and therefore of air conditioning, but also of drinking water. The authorities are preparing to set up cooling centers with portable generators for the most vulnerable and to distribute water. These floods are the most recent manifestations of extreme weather episodes which are becoming more frequent with the warming of the planet caused by human activities.
In December, several dozen Violent tornadoes tore through five states in the central United States, mainly western Kentucky, and killed at least 79 people.
A desolate scene following tornadoes in Kentucky late last year (Archives)
Paradoxically, these tornadoes helped Kentucky to better prepare for natural disasters, the governor noted.
We learned a lot of lessons in Western Kentucky with those devastating tornadoes seven months ago, a he declared. Caravans that had temporarily relocated victims of tornadoes last winter have been sent to the east of the state, where they should arrive quickly.