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Heavy rains in eastern Kentucky lead to life-threatening flash floods

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Flash flooding states of emergency were declared early Thursday for areas including Perry, Leslie and Clay counties, and flash flood warnings are in effect for other nearby areas, the National Weather Service said.
“This is a very dangerous situation. Find higher ground now!” the weather service said in a warning early Thursday.

In the small town of Hindman on a creek, a main road turned into a river before dawn, as seen in video by storm chaser Brandon Clement.

Barbara Wicker was concerned about relatives in town, including five grandchildren, because the water had surrounded their homes, she told Clement.

‘I can’t reach them. I can’t reach 911. … There’s no help in sight,” Wicker told Clement on an early Wednesday outside in Hindman, a town in Knott County, about a 130-mile drive southeast of Lexington.

“That goes way up there — everyone is trapped,” Hindman resident Kendra Bentley, who also stood by a road outside, told Clement about flooding around homes.

After rainfall in recent days, it increased in the region on Wednesday night.

In Perry County alone, 20 inches of rain had fallen from 8 a.m. in the past 24 hours.

And more flooding is possible Thursday, especially in parts of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and far southwest Virginia, the weather service said.

Fast-water rescues were reported Thursday in Kentucky’s Perry County, including in Chavies, a community of several hundred people about 30 miles west of Hindman and a 110-mile drive southeast of Lexington, the weather service said.

In the Breathitt County community of Jackson, water rushed past a house in the predawn darkness Thursday, carrying a garbage can and other debris, according to video recorded by Deric Lostutter.

Breathitt County opened its courthouse as a shelter for those displaced by the floods, the county emergency management agency said on Facebook.

“Many roads in the province will be flooded and impassable. Please stay off the road if at all possible tonight,” the post said.

Rescue teams were unable to reach several areas due to “rapid water over roads,” the emergency management agency noted.
Water nearly swallowed several buildings in the Lost Creek community of Breathitt County in eastern Kentucky Thursday morning.

‘Seemingly endless fire hose’ of moisture in much of the US

Thursday’s flood in Kentucky comes two days after record-breaking rainfall caused widespread flash flooding in the St. Louis area.
It is part of a “seemingly never-ending firehose of monsoon and Gulf of Mexico moisture that is producing a conveyor belt of heavy rain and thunderstorms from the southwest to central Appalachians,” the Weather Prediction Center said Thursday morning.

Recent rain, with more on the way, makes additional flash flooding likely in parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and central Appalachians over the next two days, the forecast center said.

A moderate risk — or Level 3 of 4 — of excessive rainfall exists Thursday for parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and northern Tennessee — as well as parts of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the forecast center said.
The climate crisis is causing massive rainfall around the world. The atmosphere can hold more moisture as temperatures rise, which can lead to higher rainfall and increase the likelihood of record-breaking downpours.
Scientists are increasingly confident in the role the climate crisis plays in extreme weather and have warned that these events will become more intense and dangerous with every fraction of a degree of warming.

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