Kentucky flooding death toll rises to 39

Kentucky has shifted from emergency mode to stabilizing communities after the historic flooding emergency destroyed homes and roads throughout the region.

The death toll continued to rise more than two weeks after extreme rainfall produced a deadly flooding emergency in Eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a 39th victim in a social media post on Friday.

"We have more tough news out of Eastern Kentucky. The official death toll from the flooding has now risen to 39, with an additional loss being counted in Breathitt County," Beshear wrote. "I ask the commonwealth to join me in praying for our fellow Kentuckians during this difficult time."

No additional details about the victim have been given.


The 38th death was that of Aaron "Mick" Crawford, a Knott County High School student who died after assisting with cleanup efforts in the area.

Among the deaths in hard-hit Knott County are a 63-year-old man, a 65-year-old woman and two children. The bodies of two other children were recovered last week. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported the four children were swept away by floodwaters in Knott County. 

Kentucky State Police continued to respond to missing person reports in the flooded area. Two women, Vanessa Baker, 60, and Nancy Cundiff, 29, from Breathitt County, remain unaccounted for since heavy rain created a flood emergency across the region last month, sweeping entire homes away. Both women were last seen near their homes on Lower River Caney Road.

Between 7 and 10 inches of rain fell in parts of eastern Kentucky over two days, most of which fell in just a few hours early on the morning of July 28. The cities of Hazard and Jackson both received nearly 8 inches.

More than 1,300 people were rescued between July 28 and Aug. 2 by the Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky State Police and Department of Fish and Wildfire, with help from neighboring Tennessee and West Virginia National Guards. 

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.


Last week teams moved from search and rescue to wellness checks on homes cut off by the natural disaster's impacts. This week, the governor said teams are now moving from the emergency phase to stabilization. 

Hundreds of people have sought shelter at state parks and campgrounds after they were opened up for anyone needing a place to stay after losing everything in the flooding. 

About 500 people remain in emergency shelters and state parks two weeks after the flooding event. Beshear estimated about twice that many people impacted by the floods are staying with friends or family. 

About 80 families are using travel trailers brought in for Kentuckians to seek shelter from the elements after losing everything in the historic flooding.

A dozen counties have also been approved to receive individual FEMA assistance. 

Homeowners and renters in Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Whitley counties can apply for individual assistance through FEMA.