After severe rains flooded Eastern Kentucky, demolishing hundreds of houses and eradicating whole communities, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has stated Friday morning that the death toll had climbed to 15.

Search and rescue crews, with the support of the National Guard, were searching for missing persons Friday after historic floods rushed over the area. The governor proclaimed a state of emergency.

Beshear told AP that the 15 people killed in Kentucky included children, “but I expect that number to more than double, probably even throughout today.”

After more than 6 inches of rain poured in certain counties from Wednesday night into Thursday, forecasters predicted that there would be additional rain on Friday and into the weekend. According to Brandon Bonds, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, it won’t take a significant amount of further rain to “cause even more damage.” In many of the regions that were hit the worst by the floods, it was anticipated that a flood watch or warning will continue to be in force.

“We’re anticipating for more storms to develop going into the weekend,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Flooding & Rescue Efforts

Beshear stated that more than 200 individuals had sought refuge. The National Guard has been called into action.

“In a word, this event is devastating, and I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time,” Beshear said Thursday. “There are going to be a lot of people out there that need our help, there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to be displaced, and this is yet another disaster that is going to take some time to rebuild.”

Beshear had said that between 20 and 30 individuals were evacuated by air by rescue teams of the Kentucky State Police and the National Guards of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Although rain was observed in a number of locations around the state, the flooding occurred in eastern Kentucky, namely in the counties that are located close to the state lines with Virginia and West Virginia.

It has been stated that the communities of Whitesburg, Booneville, Salyersville, Garett, Jackson, Hazard, and the remainder of Perry County were among those that were affected the most severely.

As of six o’clock on Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Jackson reported that a section of the Kentucky River in Jackson hit a new all-time high of 43.2 feet. This is the highest level the river has ever attained. This milestone was higher than the previous record, which had been established in 1939 when the river reached a height of 43.1 feet.