The death toll from devastating flooding in rural Kentucky has risen to 30 people, authorities have confirmed, as searches for the missing continued.
“We expect that there will be more and that that number will grow,” Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear said on Sunday.
More rainfall is expected across the region on Monday, according to the National Weather Service, with a flood watch in effect in southern and eastern Kentucky. The conditions are likely to hamper ongoing rescue efforts.
Gov Beshear has called the flood “one of the most devastating deadly floods that we have seen in our history”.
“We are going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a quarter-mile plus from where they were last,” he said, according to NBC News.
More than 14,500 people in Kentucky are currently without power, according to a national tracker.
Jeffrey Noble, the judge-executive in Breathitt County, said that the flooding had knocked out phone services for miles and that main roads in Jackson, the county seat, remained obstructed.
Col Jeremy Slinker, the Kentucky emergency management director, told CNN that “the forecast is concerning”, and that they were watching it very closely. “We also are sending out warnings and making sure everyone knows.”
He added: “We are preparing for it and making sure all the residents there are prepared for it because we just don’t want to lose anyone else or have any more tragedy.”
On Sunday afternoon, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency said 37 people are unaccounted for and put the official toll at 28. Mr Beshear offered an update on Monday morning, confirming the toll had jumped to 30.
The governor took to Twitter and shared that there is widespread damage, “with many families displaced and more rain expected throughout the next day”.
There are fears the flooding situation might get worse. The Weather Prediction Centre said: “The threat of flash flooding will be gradually increasing as showers and thunderstorms with very heavy rainfall rates develop and expand in coverage today.”
Gov Beshear said on Sunday that due to the massive flooding, the state’s estimated losses were potentially in the “tens if not the hundreds of millions of dollars”.