More help needed to reach those stranded by deadly Kentucky flooding – many requiring insulin or other care – resident says

Photo of Nathan Day (Male on the right) after rescuing Mrs. Prater (female on the left) and Mrs. Gayheart (female on the right)
'The water was over my head': Man describes daring flood rescue
04:22 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Last week’s flooding has killed more than three dozen people in eastern Kentucky, the governor says – and stifling heat will soon compound the challenges for people who are without power and stranded by washed-away roads and bridges.

Temperatures in the region Wednesday and Thursday will climb into the 90s, and because of the humidity it will feel close to 100 degrees, CNN meteorologists say. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area from noon Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s going to get really, really hot, and that is now our new weather challenge,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news conference Tuesday morning.

The flooding, which began early Thursday when heavy rain hit an already saturated region, displaced scores of people from their homes, wiped houses from their foundations, snatched away entire livelihoods including farms and businesses, and left residents with catastrophic damage to their properties, vehicles and other belongings.

At least 37 people have died in the flooding, Beshear said Tuesday. The death toll is expected to go up, the governor said.

Beshear for days has said numerous people are unaccounted for, in part because cell phone service was lost – and because the flooding took out rural roads and bridges that are in some cases the only access point for communities in this part of Appalachia.

Finding the missing isn’t the only difficulty. Many people are stranded because of the washed-out roads – and there’s a desperate need to either deliver supplies to them or move them, a resident of flood-hit Knott County says.

“I still have aunts and uncles that are stuck in hollers. They are diabetics. They need insulin,” Knott County resident Zack Hall told CNN on Tuesday morning.

“I went to visit one yesterday – was lucky enough to get up there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there was no road … and that’s what people need to understand, is the infrastructure here is just completely destroyed and it makes relief efforts” difficult, Hall said.

Though cell service is being restored, some areas are still without it, leaving many unable to contact loved ones or emergency services.

The disaster also knocked out essential power and water utilities, which repair crews have been struggling to restore because of dangerous conditions and washed-out roads. More than 5,600 customers in eastern Kentucky were still without power Tuesday evening, according to PowerOutage.us.

More than 18,000 service connections were without water Tuesday and an additional 45,600 were under a boil water advisory, Beshear said.

The power and water outages are especially troubling for those who are stranded and don’t have easy access to supplies, Hall, the Knott County resident, said.

“With the heat, once it dries up for the day, it’s just muggy, humid. … A lot of people on oxygen that don’t have power are already struggling,” Hall said. “I think the worst is still to come if we’re not able to clear paths and get to these people.”

More people with utility terrain vehicles are needed to help in the area, he said.

“If they can just come and help, help us move things, help us clear paths, help us deliver water, food, medicine to people. (And) pull people out that want to leave the area – we just need as many hands on deck as we can have,” Hall said.