Brutal heat threatens Kentucky as it grapples with flood damage

The state has moved to open more cooling centers for residents.

August 04, 2022, 2:31 PM

Dangerous heat has enveloped Kentucky as thousands of residents remain without electricity or running water after historic flooding hit the eastern part of the state.

The state’s governor, Andy Beshear, is urging Kentuckians to find cool shelter, take breaks from the immense clean up and relief efforts and stay hydrated as temperatures pose a threat to individuals’ health.

“We don’t want to lose anyone else,” the governor said.

A total of 37 people have died due to the floods in eastern Kentucky. However, there have been no further fatalities reported since Monday, Beshear said. He said it is likely for that number to rise in the new few days.

As thousands of power outages and water system issues persist, the state has moved to shelter and hydrate residents.

The state has now opened 11 cooling shelters, three more than what was available on Wednesday afternoon, according to officials.

PHOTO: An aerial view of the flooded area in eastern Kentucky, July 30, 2022.
An aerial view of the flooded area in eastern Kentucky, July 30, 2022.
Kentucky National Guard/AFP via Getty Images

Water system outages remain high, but continue to decrease. On Thursday, 13,590 service connections continue to be without water, compared to 18,002 on Wednesday. Additionally, 41,004 service connections are under boil water advisory as of Thursday, down from 45,656 on Wednesday.

The Kentucky National Guard has 389 service members serving the relief effort and has delivered 11,682 cases of water to individuals in the area as of Thursday.

Restoring the damaged infrastructure, particularly the area’s water systems, will require "significant time and significant dollars," Beshear said on Wednesday.

Power outage relief has begun, with outages in the area decreasing from 5,086 on Wednesday to 3,044 on Thursday, the governor said.

PHOTO: A Perry County school bus, along with other debris, sits in a creek near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31, 2022.
A Perry County school bus, along with other debris, sits in a creek near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31, 2022.
Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Cooling centers, and some state shelters, have regained power and are offering air conditioning to displaced Kentuckians, according to officials.

There are currently 428 displaced persons taking shelter at state parks, shelters and tractor trailers. The majority, 293 people, are at state parks, with another 76 at shelters and 59 in tractor trailers.

Beshear said there are many more displaced persons not included in the state’s count, as many are staying with friends and family.

The Kentucky National Guard has performed over 1,300 rescues since the flooding began on July 28, officials said. Now, as the heat rises to triple digits on Thursday, service members are continuing to deliver food, water, medication and offer medical support.

PHOTO: Appalshop building sits flooded after extreme weather in Whitesburg, Ky., July 28, 2022.
Appalshop building sits flooded after extreme weather in Whitesburg, Ky., July 28, 2022.
Appalshop via AP

Despite the heat, being on “little sleep” and providing support for “days upon days” as Beshear described on Thursday, service members are continuing forward.

“It is important to know that we are neighbors helping neighbors,” Sergeant Robert Lemmon of the Kentucky National Guard said on Thursday. “It's personal when we take part in these missions.”

Heavy rain may threaten the region again on Friday, as thunderstorms are predicted to return over the next day, the National Weather Service said.

Beshear advised residents to watch out for trees and utility poles as the wind picks up, as much of the ground is still deeply saturated from the floods. He added that further plans for the flood will be adjusted as the wet weather nears again.

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