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'Devastation is enormous'; Death toll in eastern Kentucky flooding remains at 37

"We will be there for our eastern Kentucky neighbors in the weeks, months and year ahead," Governor Andy Beshear said on Twitter.

Joseph Garcia, Associated Press, Sarah Magin

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Published: 11:15 AM CDT July 28, 2022
Updated: 9:06 PM CDT August 5, 2022

Governor Andy Beshear says, for the sixth day in a row, there have been no new deaths following catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky

The death toll remains at 37. The majority of those deaths are from Knott County, where four children died.

It was previously reported that six children were among the dead, but Beshear said July 30 two of the bodies were later identified as adults. There are five counties with death tolls, Beshear said. 

He said Sunday morning that the devastation is "enormous." 

"Continue to pray for the families that have suffered an unfathomable loss, some have lost almost everyone in their household," he said. "I'm worried we're gonna be finding bodies for weeks to come." 

Beshear said during a Friday update that crews are out of the search and rescue phase and have moved on to doing wellness checks, as more rain is on the way in the coming days and could cause additional flash flooding.

"The ground is already really saturated," he said. "There's a lot of debris that's out there that could cause clogging in waterways that could lead to flooding."

Many of the communities hit the hardest have seen an overwhelming amount of volunteers.

"Now that we can reach many of these areas; the donations, the food, the water is flooding in," Beshear said.

Beshear says as of Aug. 5, 209 people are being house in temporary shelters. Another 320 displaced Kentuckians are in state parks.

More than 1,400 people have been rescued by boat and helicopter, and fourteen counties and three cities have declared emergencies. 

There are a little more than 300 people without power in the region, Beshear says unlike in western Kentucky, standing water has slowed restoration efforts. This number is down though from nearly 25,000 at one point on Aug. 4.

He said there are roughly 11,700 households and businesses without water, there are approximately 35,000 under a boil water advisory. 

"I think about the last eight days and services are being restored," he said. "When you look at the level of damage they are being restored, they are being restored at a pace that is nothing short than remarkable."

Travel trailers to temporarily house displaced residents have started making their way to eastern Kentucky.

Earlier this week, Beshear quickly launched the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund to help flood survivors as they work to rebuild. 

As of Friday morning, over $3.6 million has been raised to help survivors.

Donations help with food, shelter and other necessities of life and go towards any emergency funds that come into the area.

The governor said the first expenditure will be for providing money to the families who have lost loved ones so they can have funerals.

"The least we ought to be able to do is grieve together," he said. "It's the least we can do, is to be there with these folks in this incredibly difficult time."

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