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At least 37 dead in Kentucky flooding as governor says hundreds of people are still unaccounted for

Death toll rises in Kentucky flooding disaster
Death toll rises in Kentucky flooding disaster 02:19

The death toll in Kentucky climbed to 37 from last week's massive flooding, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday. 

"Let us pray for these families and come together to wrap our arms around our fellow Kentuckians," Beshear tweeted

During a briefing earlier Monday morning, the governor said hundreds of people were unaccounted for. He said a report over the weekend of a smaller number was only for one state police post.

"We just don't have a firm grasp on that," the governor said. "I wish we did."

More than 12,000 customers remained without power, many because their homes and businesses have been destroyed or aren't fit for habitation. Shelters were housing at least 300 people.

Parts of eastern Kentucky received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches of rain over 48 hours last week and the National Weather Service said radar indicated up to 4 inches of rain fell Sunday in some areas. More severe storms were possible across all the counties affected by the flooding, Beshear said.

"If things weren't hard enough on the people of this region, they're getting rain right now," Beshear said Monday.

Water-damaged items sit outside a house in Squabble Creek, Kentucky, following historic flooding in eastern Kentucky, July 31, 2022.
Water-damaged items sit outside a house in Squabble Creek, Kentucky, following historic flooding in eastern Kentucky, July 31, 2022. Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

The governor canceled a trip to Israel that had been scheduled for later this week, saying "I cannot be overseas while the people of eastern Kentucky are suffering."

Meanwhile, nighttime curfews were declared in response to reports of looting in two of the devastated communities — Breathitt County and the nearby city of Hindman in Knott County.

Breathitt County Judge Executive Jeff Noble declared a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., County Attorney Brendon Miller said Sunday evening in a Facebook post. The only exceptions will be for emergency vehicles, first responders and people traveling for work.

"I hate to have to impose a curfew, but looting will absolutely not be tolerated. Our friends and neighbors have lost so much — we cannot stand by and allow them to lose what they have left," the post said.

Hindman Mayor Tracy Neice also announced a curfew Sunday night, from sunset to sunrise, due to "excessive looting," CBS affiliate WYMT-TV reported. Both curfews will remain in place until further notice, officials said.

President Biden declared a federal disaster last week to direct relief money to flooded counties and sent Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to coordinate directly in the recovery.

Last week's flooding extended to West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six southern counties, and to Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin also made an emergency declaration that enabled officials to mobilize resources across the flooded southwest portion of the state.

Stories of survival continue to emerge. A 17-year-old girl whose home in Whitesburg was flooded Thursday put her dog in a plastic container and swam 70 yards to safety on a neighbor's roof. Chloe Adams waited hours until daylight before a relative in a kayak arrived and moved them to safety, first taking her dog, Sandy, and then the teenager.

"My daughter is safe and whole tonight," her father, Terry Adams, said in a Facebook post. "We lost everything today … everything except what matters most."

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