Nashville, Tn, May 4, 2010 -- FEMA is completing aerial preliminary damage assessments over Tennessee following the severe storms and floods that have damaged or destroyed homes and businesses in April 2010. David Fine/FEMA

Flooding in eastern Kentucky has killed at least eight people, according to Governor Andy Beshear, and the death toll is projected to increase into the double digits as the water level rises.

A succession of storms flooding the state’s eastern region have poured water that has yet to crest, causing damage that might take years to recover, according to Beshear, who issued a state of emergency in six counties on Thursday morning.

“We are currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history, Beshear said in his emergency declaration.

“Hundreds will lose their homes.”

An 81-year-old woman from Perry County was among the deceased, and authorities believe other people are still missing, though an exact total was not available Thursday night.

“This is an ongoing natural disaster, with more rain expected tonight that could worsen the situation,” Beshear warned.

According to the website Poweroutage.us, the flooding knocked out electricity to 24,000 residents in eastern Kentucky.

In videos broadcast by local media, roads appeared to be rivers, with water as high as the leaves of adjacent trees and power poles jutting up from greenish brown water.

Beshear said the state deployed the national guard and state police to use helicopters and boats to rescue individuals stranded in flooding.

State parks and other sites created evacuation centers, but Beshear warned that some of the facilities themselves were heavily impacted by the storms and may be without power or other amenities.

Fresh water would also be scarce in some areas of the flooded zone, so trucks will bring in drinking water, he said.

The National Weather Service predicted that the hard-hit area near Hazard in the Cumberland Mountain foothills of Appalachia would continue to have heavy rain and storms Thursday night, and an 80 percent chance on Friday. The area is still under a flood warning until shortly after midnight on Friday.

Source: Reuters

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