Death toll rises as catastrophic flooding worsens in Kentucky, Appalachia

Eastern Kentucky is the epicenter Friday of the nation's latest extreme weather disaster. At least 16 people have died in flooding that rewrote the record books and ravaged neighboring states as well. Amna Nawaz has our report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Eastern Kentucky is the epicenter tonight of the nation's latest extreme weather disaster. At least 16 people have died in flooding that rewrote the record books and ravaged neighboring states as well.

    Amna Nawaz has our report.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The town of Garrett, Kentucky is hardly recognizable, inundated by torrents of rainwater that flooded streets and wiped out homes and businesses.

    Rachel Patton was caught in the deluge.

  • Rachel Patton, Kentucky Resident:

    Everything is gone. Like, everything is gone. Our whole life is gone.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Her mother also had to be rescued.

  • Rachel Patton:

    We had to put her on a door to get her out of her trailer, because she was flooded in and couldn't get out. She's on oxygen.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Search-and-rescue teams backed by the National Guard are still searching for missing people.

    But determining the exact number of missing has been a challenge, as many people were stranded without cellular service. And many are in areas still inaccessible to the crews.

  • Judge Robbie Williams, Floyd County, Kentucky:

    We know we have got folks now that we can't get to. They have got water in their homes and are trapped. And we just can't get to them because the water is so swift.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The historic floods struck in some of the state's smallest and poorest areas. As much as a foot of rain has fallen in Eastern Kentucky in the last week in counties near the borders with Virginia and West Virginia.

    By this morning, more than 33,000 people had no power, and many also lost water service.

  • Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY):

    Hello, everybody.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Today, Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear prepared his state for more grim days ahead.

  • Gov. Andy Beshear:

    Right now, it looks like it's going to rain a lot Monday, maybe Tuesday. So we will continue to watch that. But, everybody out there, have a safety plan for when that comes. We don't want you to go through this twice.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In the meantime, the rescue effort goes on around the clock. Beshear predicted the damage will take at least a year to rebuild.

    Meanwhile, a similar story in parts of Western Virginia and Southern West Virginia, where flooding overtook roads and brought down trees, leading both governors to issue emergency declarations in the hardest-hit areas.

    And more rainfall in St. Louis last night and into today, just days after a storm topped a daily rainfall record set back in 1915.

  • Person:

    Our boat has arrived, Miri (ph).

  • Amna Nawaz:

    This mother and her 9-month-old daughter had to be rescued from their home and pulled through what was once their neighborhood in Hazelwood, Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation closed down four highways, as well as several other roads.

    Back in Kentucky, President Biden declared the situation a major disaster, ordering federal aid to 13 counties that will assist in recovery efforts.

  • Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary:

    Our hearts break for the families of those who have lost their lives or are missing and to all those who have been impacted. Unfortunately, Kentucky is no stranger to catastrophic climate events, and the federal government will continue to provide assistance.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    More rain and storms are expected to continue into the weekend.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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