LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Governor Andy Beshear held a news conference at the London Airport about the recent flooding in Southeastern Kentucky.
He was joined by Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester, Senator Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg, Rep. Adam Bowling of Middlesboro and Michael Dossett, the director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.
"There's nothing more serious than how we show up for, respond to and address the health and safety of our communities, especially in a time of need," Beshear said. "We are in constant contact and coordinating the response with local, state and federal emergency management officials to protect our people in Southeastern Kentucky."
Beshear met with county judge executives and emergency management directors from the counties hit hardest by last week's flooding.
"Without the hard work of these local officials there would have been more loss of life. There would have been certainly some devastating outcomes," said Beshear.
As of Thursday, 10 counties and seven cities declared states of emergency: Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, McCreary, Perry and Whitley County, along with Whitesburg, Williamsburg, Pineville, Middlesboro, Hazard, Jenkins and Hyden.
“I truly appreciate this opportunity to travel to these hard-hit areas of Eastern Kentucky with Gov. Beshear and my colleagues in the General Assembly,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “This region is my home, and it is of the utmost importance to me to view the flood damage firsthand. I want my fellow Eastern Kentuckians to know that Frankfort is paying close attention to this urgent situation.”
After the news conference, Beshear flew over several counties for a firsthand look at the damage.
"We certainly see some significant flooding that is still in Bell County. In other areas what we see is water receding but it is really wet," said Beshear.
Damage assessments are expected to reach in the millions, and more than 200 homes were affected.
"When you're on the ground it's kind of hard to get a full picture you know that it spans distance but when you all from a helicopter it brings it all in perspective," said Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock.
“Our region is undergoing some of the worst flooding on record,” Rep. Bowling said. “It will take time and resources to recover, but the people of Southeastern Kentucky will repair the damage and replace what has been lost. I appreciate that the Governor has designated this as a state of emergency and that he continues to work with us to do what we can for our communities.”
Beshear said the state is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the American Red Cross and search and rescue teams to respond to flooding needs. Anyone who has any damages or other needs should reach out to their county Office of Emergency Management director.
"This event is not done," Beshear warned. "We are going to receive significant additional rain in the coming days."
The governor also issued an executive order implementing price gouging laws.
"We are not going to allow those that would try to take advantage of people at one of their lowest moments to get away with it," Beshear promised.
The Department for Public Health recommended several precautions after Beshear's announcement, including:
- Cleanup workers should be up to date with their tetanus vaccination, as flooding increases the risk of injury.
- Flood-related drowning is an increased danger. Do not enter floodwaters unless you are escaping immediate danger. Do not drive a vehicle through floodwaters.
- Watch out for damaged utilities after flooding. Stay clear of damaged power lines. If you smell gas, open your doors and windows and evacuate the area.