Eastern Kentucky reels from devastating floods, 16 now dead

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The National Weather Service is watching a new cold front move into the region. The system is pushing out the system which stalled over West Virginia back on Tuesday and spawned repeated storms across the southern half of the state this week. The same system proved deadly for Eastern Kentucky just across the West Virginia border.

“What we are going to see coming out of this is massive property damage, we expect loss of life, and hundreds will lose their homes. This is going to be an event that it’s going to take not months, but likely years for families to recover from,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear .

Beshear on Friday confirmed a 16th fatality from the flood in his state. Overnight, President Biden issued a disaster declaration for the Kentucky counties impacted.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice dispatched 14 members of the West Virginia National Guard to Kentucky to assist with rescue efforts and cleanup.

The system which put down all of the rain causing the catastrophic flood water in Kentucky dumped heavily on Mingo County, West Virginia earlier. Emergency Services officials in Mingo County say 10 homes along Gilbert Creek were damaged when the creek came out of its banks Tuesday afternoon. The high water also destroyed 21 private bridges along the stream. Cleanup is underway there today.

That frontal system which spawned the devastating rain is moving out of West Virginia, but the National Weather Service said it’s being replaced by a system which is stalled over the mid-Ohio Valley. That system has created the potential for downpours through the day Friday across a lot of central and even northern West Virginia counties which haven’t had much heavy rainfall this week.

“It’s definitely going to have the potential to affect areas further north than the past few days. The good news is some of those areas have had a little less rain,” said Meteorologist Jennifer Berryman at the Charleston Weather Bureau.

Southern West Virginia remains soaked. Any large influx of precipitation there for an extended period time poses the threat of quickly causing floods. The flood threat is expected to be moved out of West Virginia and south of the state by Friday evening.

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