At least 25 people died in the US state of Kentucky after heavy rains and flooding throughout the week, the local government said on Friday (29). According to the authorities, as rescue operations are carried out, the number of victims could grow.
Governor Andy Beshear said 23,000 homes and businesses were without power, and police used helicopters and boats to rescue dozens of people trapped in homes and vehicles.
Some of the victims are children, Democrat Beshear said in a brief video address. “We may have lost entire families this week.”
Flood warnings remain in effect across the eastern half of the state, as well as parts of Tennessee and West Virginia, where Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency Thursday for six counties. The forecast for Friday included more rain, according to information from the National Weather Service.
The volume of water has raised the level of local rivers, and flash floods may recur. Other regions of the United States also felt the impact of the rains. In Las Vegas, streets and casinos were flooded.
US President Joe Biden on Friday approved a disaster declaration for Kentucky. With the measure, federal aid will be sent to complement the financial contributions of the state in the fight against the consequences of the floods.
Governor Beshear said these are the worst floods in the region’s history. “Climate change is real,” he said. Such events occur due to a series of combined factors and, according to the scientists’ assessment, they may indeed be related to the climate crisis, as a result of global warming.
As temperatures rise, there is more evaporation, taking more moisture into the atmosphere, which is released as rain. And, with more extreme precipitation events combined with poorly adapted and precarious urban infrastructure, the greater the chance of flooding and flooding.
Kentucky has been particularly affected by extreme events. Late last year, a wave of tornadoes left at least 74 people dead across the state.
The disaster came two weeks after flash floods inundated the Appalachian community of Whitewood in southwest Virginia, near the Kentucky border.