State of emergency declared as floods hit Kentucky

Severe storms and flooding have claimed at least four lives in Kentucky, USA, and Governor Steve Beshear has recognised the situation as an official emergency as the southern state battens down the hatches.

More than a third of Kentucky’s 120 counties and some 15 cities were also on high alert by Tuesday, declaring their own localised states of emergency.

The storms hit at the weekend, with the authorities acknowledging that the current official death toll of four as likely to be optimistic, with more casualties expected to be discovered as the waters subside.

“The safety of our citizens is my first priority,” said Gov Beshear.

“That is why I urge individuals who encounter high waters to use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary contact with flood waters if at all possible.

“Our thoughts are especially with those who lost loved ones in the tragic deaths that have been attributed to the weekend’s storms.”

The declaration of emergency issued by Gov Beshear means that contingency plans have kicked in and more resources are available to fight the floods.

The Division of Emergency Management which will co-ordinate relief activities has been authorized to request aid from the Red Cross and federal agencies and the National Guard may be mobilised.

“Preliminary assessments indicate the largest impact is to infrastructure, which includes roadways and water/sewage treatment plants,” said John W Heltzel, director of the Division of Emergency Management.

“We know there have been businesses and residents along many waterways that have experienced flooding and these numbers are likely to increase as run-off water continues.”

Residents have been warned to properly disinfect water for in-home use, including drinking, cooking, making prepared drinks and brushing teeth and use bottled water if it is available, providing it has not been exposed to flood waters.

Around 400 roads across the state and dozens more remain partially obstructed due to water, mud or rock slides and storm debris.

Sam Bond

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