Kentucky flooding leaves at least 15 dead, governor says

July 29 – The death toll in eastern Kentucky rose to 15 on Friday as floodwaters swept through homes, washed out roads and pushed waterways over their banks, Governor Andy Beshear said, warning that more fatalities were expected.

The National Guard and the State Police used helicopters and boats to rescue dozens of people from homes and vehicles in Kentucky’s eastern coal-mining region. Video footage from local media showed floodwaters reaching the roofs of houses and turning roads into rivers.

“We have lost at least 15 Kentuckians, though that number is going to grow, probably more than double,” Beshear said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that 23,000 homes and businesses were without power.

“This situation is ongoing. We are still in the search-and-rescue mode,” Beshear said. “It’s going to be a tough couple of days, and it’s going to be a long rebuild. We are tough enough, and we’re going to make it.”

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In Garrett, Kentucky, a coal-mining town about 125 miles (201 km) east of Lexington, brown floodwaters swirled through a commercial street and backed up against storefronts, video clips showed. Rescue boats carried people wearing life jackets along the submerged road, past the tops of vehicles poking through the high water.

“Everything is gone,” Garrett resident Rachel Patton told WCHS-TV as she cried. “We had to swim out, and it was cold, and it was over my head, and it was scary.”

Flood warnings and watches remained in effect throughout the day for the eastern half of the state and northeastern Tennessee and western West Virginia, where more rainfall was expected to swell waterways already well above their flood stages, the National Weather Service said.

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Rivers across the region were expected to crest on Friday. Throughout the weekend, a risk of more dangerous flash flooding remained possible again throughout the day, the weather service said.

As much a foot of rain (30 cm) has fallen in parts of the region over the last week, according to the service, which forecasts another half an inch (1.3 cm) would fall on Friday.

On Thursday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six counties in his state, where heavy rains caused flooding that disrupted drinking water systems and blocked roads.

In the American West, heavy rains battered Las Vegas, where floodwater washed over streets and rushed onto several casino floors and into parking garages along the famed Las Vegas Strip, the video posted on local media and social media showed.

At Circa Casino, workers tried to sweep the water away from the flooded floor, while at Planet Hollywood, water rained down on a casino table from what appeared to be a hole in the ceiling.

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