Kentucky Flood Deaths Rise To 35 With Hundreds Still Missing

It's "nearly impossible" to total how many people remain unaccounted for, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Monday.
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The catastrophic flooding in Kentucky has claimed at least 35 lives, officials said Monday as rescue workers searched for hundreds more people who remain unaccounted for.

The floods, which have inundated eastern Kentucky since last Wednesday after heavy storms pummeled the region, are “certainly the deadliest and the most devastating of my lifetime,” Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said at a Monday press conference.

The state has reports of hundreds of people who are unaccounted for, he said, but it’s “nearly impossible” to put a firm number on that.

The death toll is certain to rise, Beshear said, and more rain in the forecast threatens to compound the devastation and hinder rescue efforts.

In Knott County, four siblings ranging from ages 1 to 8 were confirmed among the dead. The children ― Maddison Noble, 8, Riley Noble Jr., 6, Nevaeh Noble, 4, and Chance Noble, 1 ― clung to a tree with their parents for hours last Thursday before being swept away, their cousin Brittany Trejo told The Lexington Herald Leader.

“They got on the roof and the entire underneath washed out with them and the children,” she said of the parents, Amber Smith and Riley Noble, who survived the ordeal. “They managed to get to a tree and ... held the children a few hours before a big tide came and wash them all away at the same time.”

Many of the affected counties are among the state’s poorest, and residents have been left without anything but “the clothes on their back” after floods tore through their homes completely destroyed all of their belongings, the governor said.

Tonya Smith, whose trailer was washed away by flooding, reaches for food from her mother Ollie Jean Johnson to give to Smith's father, Paul Johnson, as the trio used a rope to hang on over a swollen Grapevine Creek in Perry County, Kentucky, on July 28.
Tonya Smith, whose trailer was washed away by flooding, reaches for food from her mother Ollie Jean Johnson to give to Smith's father, Paul Johnson, as the trio used a rope to hang on over a swollen Grapevine Creek in Perry County, Kentucky, on July 28.
Matt Stone/USA Today Network/REUTERS

“It’s tough to watch people sorting through clothes trying to find the size that fits their family members when they have absolutely nothing,” Beshear said after visiting several of the affected communities.

He also recounted seeing or hearing about people’s desperate acts to stay alive and save their neighbors and loved ones, including a father pulling his stranded children from a second-story building and a kid driving through his neighborhood on a jet ski rescuing people from their porches.

Floodwaters have been powerful enough to sweep entire homes off their foundations, destroy bridges and wreck roadways.

“What water can do to a road is incredible and tough to believe,” the governor said. “There is a huge amount of infrastructure that is going to have to be rebuilt.”

Power has been restored for the nearly 30,000 Kentuckians who lost access, but more than 12,000 people are still waiting to regain service as of Monday. Making that progress, Beshear said, has been a “herculean effort.”

See more photos below of the devastation across eastern Kentucky.

Reggie Ritchie comforts wife Della as they pause while clearing out their destroyed manufactured home destroyed by the flooding from Troublesome Creek behind them in Fisty, Kentucky, on July 29.
Reggie Ritchie comforts wife Della as they pause while clearing out their destroyed manufactured home destroyed by the flooding from Troublesome Creek behind them in Fisty, Kentucky, on July 29.
Matt Stone/USA Today Network/REUTERS
Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from their flood ravaged homes at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from their flood ravaged homes at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
A local fire chief and his daughter drop off goods for a local community member in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
A local fire chief and his daughter drop off goods for a local community member in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images
A rescue team from the Jackson Fire Department assists people out of floodwaters downtown Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
A rescue team from the Jackson Fire Department assists people out of floodwaters downtown Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
Michael Swensen/Getty Images
Search and rescue units in Kentucky look around Troublesome Creek for multiple people still missing after flooding swept through the area, on July 30.
Search and rescue units in Kentucky look around Troublesome Creek for multiple people still missing after flooding swept through the area, on July 30.
Silas Walker/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
A trailer promoting U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell lies in a waterway due to flooding in Whitesburg, Kentucky, on July 29.
A trailer promoting U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell lies in a waterway due to flooding in Whitesburg, Kentucky, on July 29.
Scott Utterback/USA Today Network/REUTERS
Van Jackson checks on his dog, Jack, who was stranded at a church by flood waters along Right Beaver Creek, following a day of heavy rain in in Garrett, Kentucky, on July 28. Jackson owns an auto parts store in town and said he doesn't have flood insurance to cover his loss.
Van Jackson checks on his dog, Jack, who was stranded at a church by flood waters along Right Beaver Creek, following a day of heavy rain in in Garrett, Kentucky, on July 28. Jackson owns an auto parts store in town and said he doesn't have flood insurance to cover his loss.
Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK/REUTERS
Lexington Fire Department's search and rescue team performs a targeted search on Highway 476 where three people are still unaccounted for near Jackson, Kentucky on July 31. At least 28 people have been killed in the state, with hundreds rescued, but many still unaccounted for due to flooding after heavy rainfall.
Lexington Fire Department's search and rescue team performs a targeted search on Highway 476 where three people are still unaccounted for near Jackson, Kentucky on July 31. At least 28 people have been killed in the state, with hundreds rescued, but many still unaccounted for due to flooding after heavy rainfall.
Michael Swensen/Getty Images
James Jacobs signals to a National Guard helicopter flying overhead, following a day of heavy rain in in Garrett, Kentucky, on July 28.
James Jacobs signals to a National Guard helicopter flying overhead, following a day of heavy rain in in Garrett, Kentucky, on July 28.
Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK/REUTERS
Members of the local Mennonite community remove mud-filled debris from homes following flooding at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Members of the local Mennonite community remove mud-filled debris from homes following flooding at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
A Kentucky Army National Guard helicopter crew surveys disaster areas due to flooding during a media flight around eastern Kentucky, on July 30.
A Kentucky Army National Guard helicopter crew surveys disaster areas due to flooding during a media flight around eastern Kentucky, on July 30.
Spc. Danielle Sturgill/US ARMY/REUTERS
ATV drivers ferrying generator fuel and water drive around Jessica Willett's home, which was torn from its foundations during flooding and left in the middle of the road, along Bowling Creek, on July 31.
ATV drivers ferrying generator fuel and water drive around Jessica Willett's home, which was torn from its foundations during flooding and left in the middle of the road, along Bowling Creek, on July 31.
Chris Kenning/USA Today Network/REUTERS
Volunteers from the local mennonite community carry tubfulls of debris from flood soaked houses for disposal at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Volunteers from the local mennonite community carry tubfulls of debris from flood soaked houses for disposal at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on July 30.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
Bonnie Combs, right, hugs her 10-year-old granddaughter Adelynn Bowling watches as her property becomes covered by the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky.
Bonnie Combs, right, hugs her 10-year-old granddaughter Adelynn Bowling watches as her property becomes covered by the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Kentucky, on July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it's some of the worst flooding in state history.
Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Kentucky, on July 28, 2022. Heavy rains have caused flash flooding and mudslides as storms pound parts of central Appalachia. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says it's some of the worst flooding in state history.
Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/AP
Mud is seen inside a water-damaged car in the aftermath of historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
Mud is seen inside a water-damaged car in the aftermath of historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images
State workers remove debris from Buckhorn School in Buckhorn, Kentucky, following historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky on July 31.
State workers remove debris from Buckhorn School in Buckhorn, Kentucky, following historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky on July 31.
SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images
Debris surrounds a badly damaged home near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
Debris surrounds a badly damaged home near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images
A Perry County school bus, along with other debris, sits in a creek near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
A Perry County school bus, along with other debris, sits in a creek near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 31.
SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images
A car and a vintage Hindman Fire Department fire truck remain under a bridge after being washed up by floodwaters in Hindman, Kentucky, on July, 30.
A car and a vintage Hindman Fire Department fire truck remain under a bridge after being washed up by floodwaters in Hindman, Kentucky, on July, 30.
Arden S. Barnes/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
Corissa Creek (left) and Haley Gayheart help clean at the house of a friend who is eight months pregnant and unable to clean on July 30 in Jackson, Kentucky.
Corissa Creek (left) and Haley Gayheart help clean at the house of a friend who is eight months pregnant and unable to clean on July 30 in Jackson, Kentucky.
Michael Swensen/Getty Images
The Appalachian School of Luthiery studio in Hindman, Kentucky, was flooded Thursday night. Luthiery is the practice of creating or repairing stringed instruments.
The Appalachian School of Luthiery studio in Hindman, Kentucky, was flooded Thursday night. Luthiery is the practice of creating or repairing stringed instruments.
Arden S. Barnes/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
In this aerial view, floodwater surrounds a house as the Kentucky National Guard flies a recon and rescue mission in Breathitt County near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 30.
In this aerial view, floodwater surrounds a house as the Kentucky National Guard flies a recon and rescue mission in Breathitt County near Jackson, Kentucky, on July 30.
Michael Swensen/Getty Images
A home along KY-28 was moved off its foundation by the floodwaters in Chavies, Kentucky, on July 29, 2022.
A home along KY-28 was moved off its foundation by the floodwaters in Chavies, Kentucky, on July 29, 2022.
Arden S. Barnes/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
Homes along Gross Loop off of KY-15 are flooded with water from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
Homes along Gross Loop off of KY-15 are flooded with water from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
Arden S. Barnes/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
Road signs are barely visible on a road covered by floodwaters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
Road signs are barely visible on a road covered by floodwaters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
LEANDRO LOZADA/AFP/Getty Images
A couple abandons their home flooded by the waters of the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
A couple abandons their home flooded by the waters of the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
LEANDRO LOZADA/AFP/Getty Images
Aerial view of homes submerged under flood waters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
Aerial view of homes submerged under flood waters from the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Kentucky, on July 28.
LEANDRO LOZADA/AFP/Getty Images

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