FRANKFORT (AP) – The rain that unleashed massive floods in Appalachian mountain communities was diminishing yesterday, 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 Governor Andy Beshear said in yesterday’s briefing on the disaster.
The death toll stood at 37 yesterday after more bodies were found on Monday in the ruined landscape, and while over 1,300 people have been rescued, crews were still trying to reach some people who remain cut off by floods or mudslides, he said.
Hundreds remained unaccounted for, a number that should drop once cell phone service is restored and people can tell each other they’re alive.
The National Weather Service warned that slow-moving showers and thunderstorms could provoke more flash flooding through yesterday morning along waterways swollen by Sunday’s heavy rain, a dismal coda to last week’s historic floods. That includes communities just across the state line in Virginia and West Virginia, where some people also remained without power.
Cooling stations are being set up in buildings that were spared the floods as over 9,600 customers remain without electricity in eastern Kentucky, Beshear said.
“With the heat coming up, we put out the call for cooling stations. And they have been set up in time, in fact before this heat. We may, for the first time, be ahead of the weather,” he said.