In this rural part of Kentucky, it’s easy to see how devastating such heavy rainfall in such a short period of time can be devastating.
The terrain is perfect for flash floods. Steep hillside, narrow valley. And some of America’s poorest communities live in this beautiful part of the central United States.
From the air, Kentucky’s governor Andy Beshear saw the damage below – he looked down at a community of many where they would have to start over, if they were to survive.
The number is known to be unable to keep growing – victims of flash floods flooded these tiny Appalachian towns within minutes. And from everyone, the reaction was the same: they had never seen anything like this before.
Rain fell all night.
So much, so quickly, that there was little or no time to escape.
The entire house, not built to withstand anything like this, was demolished and moved.
“It’s terrible. It really is,” said local firefighter Glenn Caudil.
“I’ve been a firefighter for almost 27 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen. People are irresponsible, maybe 95% of the people in this area have lost everything. Houses, cars, animals. It’s heartbreaking. It really is.”
Scores have been raised from cut houses. And it’s not just flooding, but mudslides as well. Hundreds of houses were destroyed.
It was an unprecedented thing. catastrophic weather events. Again, the entire community was wiped out. And his scared family, too.
“We had to swim out. And it was cold, it was over my head, so it was scary,” said Rachel Patton, a local resident.
Roads were swept away, power lines were cut, water supplies were cut off, and cellular signals were cut off in many places. All of that makes the rescue effort a lot more difficult.
President Biden has now declared this a major disaster, incapacitating federal funding and personnel. It’s only been seven months since he did the same for the same state after tornadoes tore through the place.
For now, the focus is on rescues, they hope more survivors will be found, but the death toll could double. And more rain is expected on Sunday.