Baltimore Sun

Flood-ravaged Ky. towns now cleaning up in scorching heat

- By Bruce Schreiner and Rebecca Reynolds

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The rain that unleashed massive floods in Appalachia­n mountain communitie­s diminished Tuesday, leaving survivors to face a new threat: baking in the heat as they try to recover.

“It’s going to get really, really hot. And that is now our new weather challenge,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at a briefing on the disaster.

The death toll stood at 37 Tuesday after more bodies were found Monday in the ruined landscape, and while more than 1,300 people have been rescued, crews are still trying to reach some people who remain cut off by floods or mudslides. Hundreds were unaccounte­d for, a number that should drop as cellphone service is restored and people can tell each other they’re alive, Beshear said.

“It is absolutely devastatin­g out there,” he said. “It’s going to take years to rebuild.”

Eastern Kentucky dodged what had been predicted to be heavy rain

Tuesday morning, as the storms shifted westward instead. But flood advisories were still in effect for several rivers in the state, the National Weather Service said, and rain could return Thursday into Friday — unwelcome news for a water-soaked state that registered some of the worst flooding in its history after heavy rainfall caused floods and mudslides last week.

Cooling stations are being set up in buildings that were spared the floods as more than 9,600 customers remain without electricit­y in eastern Kentucky, Beshear said.

“I know you may be out there working to salvage whatever you can. But be really careful Wednesday and Thursday when it gets hot,” Beshear said. “We’re bringing in water by the truckloads. We’re going to make sure we have enough for you. But you’re going to need a cool place at least to take a break.”

For hundreds of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed, that place was an emergency shelter.

As of Tuesday, nearly 430 people were staying at 11 such shelters, and 191 more were being housed temporaril­y in state parks, Beshear said.

Meanwhile, the flooding has forced some eastern Kentucky districts to delay the start of school. Several schools in the region were damaged, officials said, and the focus now is on helping families whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

“Just that in and of itself is going to take time before we can even start the conversati­on with the community about where kids are going to go to school,” said John Jett, superinten­dent in Perry County, where classes were supposed to start Aug. 11.In Knott County, Superinten­dent Brent Hoover said classes would be delayed until the district can assess damage at the high school, an elementary school and the technology center.

In Letcher County, Superinten­dent Denise Yonts said six of the district’s 10 schools were damaged and two staff members died.

 ?? AMANDA ROSSMANN/COURIER JOURNAL ?? Debris floats Monday in the flood-swollen Troublesom­e Creek in Hindman, Ky. The creek has started to recede, allowing cleanup efforts to begin.
AMANDA ROSSMANN/COURIER JOURNAL Debris floats Monday in the flood-swollen Troublesom­e Creek in Hindman, Ky. The creek has started to recede, allowing cleanup efforts to begin.

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