But reaching the missing is not the only challenge. A flood-hit Knott County resident says several people who are known to have survived washed-out roads are still stranded.
“I still have aunts and uncles in hollers. They’re diabetic. They need insulin,” Knott County resident Zach Hall told CNN Tuesday morning.
“I went to see somebody yesterday — and was lucky enough to get up there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there’s no road … that’s what people have to understand, is the infrastructure here completely destroyed? It makes relief efforts difficult,” Hall said.
At least 37 people have died in the flooding, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday. Areas that were already inundated by the rains of the past few days were flooded with heavy rains on Thursday morning. The death toll is expected to rise.
“We’re still looking for people, unfortunately we’re still finding those bodies,” Beshear told CNN Monday evening.
Officials say efforts to reach stranded people have been hampered by washed-out infrastructure. Although cell service has been restored, some areas are still without it, leaving many unable to contact loved ones or emergency services.
Suppressing the heat doesn’t help. Wednesday will be the driest day of the week, but that will allow temperatures to climb into the 90s. CNN meteorologists say it will feel like almost 100 degrees because of the humidity.
“We still have back roads and county roads that are broken, and our bridges are depleted, so it’s very difficult to get to some remote places,” Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman told CNN Monday.
Hall, a Knott County resident, said power and water outages are especially worrying for those who are stranded and don’t have easy access to supplies.
“With the heat, once it dries out all day, it’s just muggy and humid. … A lot of people are already struggling with oxygen without electricity,” Hall said. “I think worse is to come if we can’t clear the trails and get these people.”
More people with utility all-terrain vehicles are needed to help in the area, he said.
“If they can come and help, help us move things, help clear lanes, help us get people water, food, medicine. (And) pull people out who want to leave the area — we need as many hands as possible on deck,” Hall said.
Due to road problems, it is difficult to know how many people are missing, says the governor
Beshear said Monday that infrastructure challenges still make it “almost impossible” to understand the exact number of missing people.
Since it started last week, floods have devastated many districts and displaced many people from their homes. Heavy floods swept houses off their foundations, uprooted entire livelihoods, including farms and businesses, and caused catastrophic damage to residents’ properties, vehicles and belongings.
Rescuers have been battling the weather for days.
In a shocking video, an 83-year-old woman can be seen being airlifted to safety by a Blackhawk helicopter in Breathitt County. Rescuers learned he and four other family members were trapped in the attic Thursday, Wolfe County Search & Rescue Team spokesman Drew Stevens told CNN.
The woman was not injured, Stevens said, but a male family member was taken to the hospital with a broken collar bone. He has since been released.
The state is in mourning after several calamities
Beshear spoke Monday at an event for hurricane victims in western Kentucky and acknowledged that Kentuckians have been affected statewide by deadly natural disasters.
“Flooding in Eastern Kentucky is as difficult as this hurricane,” he said, adding that natural disasters “tear at the fabric of who we are.”
“I was at a breaking point the other night because it happens to all of us — it’s okay to not be okay,” Beshear said. “We’re going to get through it because we have no choice.”
The flood death toll spans at least five counties and includes four siblings from Knott County who were swept away by strong currents. The children were identified to CNN by their aunt as siblings Chance, 2; Neva, 4; Riley Jr., 6; and Madison, 8.
“I went to what used to be their house yesterday,” Beshear said of the family that lost four children. “I stood in front of their front door and saw one of the baby swings in the back. I think the oldest would have been in second grade. They don’t even get the same amount of time on this earth. As my children have already experienced.”
CNN’s Michelle Watson, Dakin Andone, Carol Alvarado, Amy Simonson and Monica Garrett contributed to this report.
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