Areas in eastern Kentucky are now subject to curfews following severe flooding that damaged buildings and killed residents.
At least 35 people have died as a result of last week’s floods. Rescue operations are still underway with hundreds of people still unaccounted for.
Among the deceased were a set of four siblings – ages 8, 5, 4, and 2 years old – who were swept away by the current as they clung to a tree with their parents.
The sheriff of Breathitt County announced on Facebook that a curfew will be in effect between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. Exceptions have been granted to first responders and people traveling to work as well as people seeking help during a medical emergency.
“I hate to have to impose a curfew, but looting will absolutely not be tolerated,” wrote Brendon D. Miller, the county attorney. “Our friends and neighbors have lost so much — we cannot stand by and allow them to lose what they have left.”
In Knott County, the city of Hindman also enacted a curfew because of rampant looting plaguing the already damaged communities.
“If you are taking advantage of people in their time of need, you are sick,” Hindman Mayor Tracy Neice said. “You will not hurt my people. You just won’t.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Kentucky Emergency Management has warned Kentucky residents of potential scams and identity theft purported by individuals masquerading as home inspectors or other officials, per WLKY Louisville.
The flooding began late last week.
“Powerful floodwaters swallowed towns that hug creeks and streams in Appalachian valleys and hollows, swamping homes and businesses, leaving vehicles in useless piles and crunching runaway equipment and debris against bridges,” reported CBS News. “Mudslides marooned people on steep slopes, and thousands of customers were without power.”
The crisis prompted Governor Andy Beshear to declare a state of emergency on July 28 and canceled a scheduled trip to Israel. On Aug. 1, Beshear said water was the most needed resource.
“We have hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, hundreds of people displaced, but we are moving and moving fast,” said Beshear during his statement, per WSAW.
Currently, 14 emergency shelters are open and are housing just over 480 people.
President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster in 13 Kentucky counties and made funding available for emergency protective measures as well as hazard mitigation measures.
Flooding also impacted several counties in southern West Virginia and Virginia.
At this time, more than 12,000 people in Kentucky are still without power.