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'Historic flooding' devastates Kentucky, leaving at least 15 dead and many missing. Beshear and Biden declare weather disaster.

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LEANDRO LOZADA/AFP via Getty Images

At least 15 people have died after torrential rain caused deadly flooding in Kentucky. Hundreds of homes and businesses have also been destroyed by the devastating flood. Thousands are without power after floodwaters and mudslides ravaged Eastern Kentucky.

The Associated Press reported that record floods "wiped out entire communities in some of the poorest places in America." The flash flooding overwhelmed communities in the Appalachian mountain region – where communities are perched on steep hillsides or settled in valleys.

The National Weather Service in Jackson reported that a portion of the Kentucky River reached 43.2 feet – the highest it had ever reached – breaking a record set in 1939.

WKYT-TV reported, "We know the North Fork of the Kentucky River crested at 43.47 feet Thursday night, more than four feet higher than it was last year, which also prompted evacuations from the Panbowl Lake Floodplain."

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on Thursday.

"In a word, this event is devastating," Beshear said on Thursday. "And I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant, deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time."

On Friday morning, Beshear delivered an update on the weather disaster devastating Appalachian valleys and hollows.

"The flooding situation in Eastern Kentucky is ongoing, with a flood watch in effect through today," Beshear wrote on Twitter. "Heartbreakingly, we can confirm at least 15 deaths, but we expect that number to grow. Over 23,000 Kentuckians are without power."

He said many counties are without water.

"This isn't just a disaster. It is an ongoing natural disaster," Beshear added. "We are in the midst of it."

The Kentucky governor said there had been 50 air rescues and "hundreds" of boat rescues, including efforts by the National Guard. However, there are still people missing.

"We've still got a lot of searching to do," said Jerry Stacy, the emergency management director in Perry County. "We still have missing people."

Beshear said that over 200 people had sought shelter.

Beshear thanked heroic first responders who are "working around the clock to help those impacted."

Beshear said the state needs water and cleaning supplies. He urged those who want to help to donate to the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund – "where 100% of donations will go to Kentuckians affected by this historic flooding."

On Friday morning, President Joe Biden declared that the severe flooding in Kentucky is a "major disaster."

Biden ordered federal aid to help with "local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on July 26, 2022, and continuing."

Federal funds will be available in counties hardest hit by the flooding: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, and Wolfe.

Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams told CNN, "I've never seen this much water before. I mean it just absolutely poured and we've got, you know, some small towns that are completely under water."

There is a chance of rain in the area forecast every day through Thursday.

Parts of western Virginia, southern West Virginia, and Missouri also experienced flooding.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six counties in his state after dangerous flooding swamped the area.

St. Louis was soaked with 9.04 inches of rain from late Monday into Tuesday – breaking the Missouri city's record for most rainfall in 24 hours that was set in 1915 with 7.02 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

15 dead in Appalachian flooding, toll expected to rise www.youtube.com

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