Historic Kentucky flooding: Teen saves her dog from floodwaters, swims to neighbor's roof to await rescue
WHITESBURG, Ky. - As fast-moving floodwaters swept through eastern Kentucky, Chloe Adams wasn't about to leave her dog behind.
Flash flooding devastated parts of the state on Thursday and Friday, killing at least 30 people and damaging hundreds of homes as rivers and creeks rose out of their banks due to torrential rain.
With the water rapidly rising in the middle of the night, the 17-year-old girl acted quickly and grabbed a plastic bin.
"She saved her dog by putting her in a container that would float and then swam with her to a neighboring rooftop," Terry Adams, Chloe's father, later wrote on Facebook.
The teen was ultimately rescued by her grandfather, a kayaker, who said that Chloe had to swim about 70 yards across the water's current while pulling her dog, named Sandy, in the container behind her in order to get to the roof for safety.
"She waited hours until she could be rescued. She is a hero," her father wrote. "We lost everything today… everything except what matters most."
Terry Adams Sr. captured this photo of his granddaughter Chloe and her dog sitting on her neighbor's roof, where they sought shelter from Kentucky's historic flash flooding. Adams rescued both Chloe and her dog with his kayak. (Photo courtesy: Terry
Death toll rises to 30
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the latest death toll Monday morning in addition to the latest recovery efforts.
"We can now confirm that we have lost 30 Kentuckians to this flooding," Beshear said in a news conference, adding that he expects the death toll number to continue to rise as "hundreds" remain unaccounted for in the state.
The governor said there have been 660 air rescues, with as many as 30 helicopters in the air. Hundreds of boat rescues were also conducted in the Bluegrass State.
Beshear mentioned Sunday that they have "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damage due to the flooding.
On Friday, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for Kentucky, providing federal aid to support recovery efforts. FEMA teams have been on the ground since Thursday.
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The weather could impact recovery efforts this week as forecasters say there is severe storm potential Monday in many of the flood-ravaged areas in Kentucky, and that will be followed by a dangerous heat wave.
"The most risk is on the northernmost part of the impacted area where it is very unstable," Beshear said in a news conference Monday morning. "When the rain stops, it's going to get really hot."
The governor surveyed the damage last Friday along with FEMA Administrator Deanna Criswell in a National Guard helicopter.
"From everything we’ve seen, we may be updating the count of how many we’ve lost over the next couple of weeks," Beshear said Friday after an aerial tour of some disaster areas.
"So keep praying. There's still a lot of people out there, still a lot of people unaccounted for," Beshear said. "We're going to do our best to find them all."
Floodwaters destroy major infrastructure and create new hazards during recovery
Roofs from houses continued to be carried downstream in the floodwaters more than 24 hours after the flood emergency began.
Last Friday, Criswell said from an aerial view that the extent of the long-term impacts was just becoming apparent.
"We saw many homes that are still inundated, that the water has not receded," the FEMA administrator said. "We also saw homes, I think, that are going to have access issues for some time just because the roads are out and bridges are out. And so we know that there is definitely some significant impact to the communities that we just flew over."
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Between 7 and 10 inches of rain fell in parts of eastern Kentucky between Tuesday and Thursday of last week, most of which fell in just a few hours early Thursday morning. The cities of Hazard and Jackson both received nearly 8 inches.
Buckhorn saw the highest rain total, with a report of 10.40 inches of rain falling over those three days.
Infrastructure is a significant concern for rescue-and-recovery efforts. In Perry County, the governor said they are still trying to assess how many bridges the county lost in the flooding. Beshear noted that every culvert in low-lying areas in Letcher County is damaged.
This catastrophic flooding in Kentucky came just two days after a historic flood in St. Louis killed one person last Tuesday when more than 9 inches of rain fell.
"I wish I could tell you why we keep getting hit here in Kentucky. I wish I could tell you why areas where people may not have that much continue to get it and lose everything," Beshear said. "I can't give you the why, but I know what we do in response to it. The answer is everything we can."
FOX News contributed to this report.