(B911) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a State of Emergency today due to severe flooding in Eastern Kentucky.

“This was a tough night and maybe an even tougher morning for so many of our residents,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history. The situation is dynamic and ongoing. In most places we are not seeing receding water – in fact, in most places it has not crested yet. What we are going to see coming out of this is massive property damage and we expect loss of life. Hundreds will lose their homes. And this will be yet another event that will take not months, but years, for our families to rebuild and recover from.”

He added, “I also want to tell the people of Eastern Kentucky that we are going to be there for them. You are important and we want to help. This is what we do as Kentuckians – we help each other out.”

At the Governor’s 9:30 a.m. EDT media briefing the following items were discussed:

The Governor was at the State Emergency Operations Center about 7 a.m., speaking directly to local officials, emergency management directors, the Kentucky National Guard, cabinet leadership and the CEO of the American Red Cross.

At least six counties have declared local states of emergency: Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Letcher, Owsley and Pike.

Gov. Beshear mobilized the Kentucky National Guard, which has 15-20 high-axle vehicles that can pass through the flooded roads to assist with delivering supplies and rescuing Kentuckians. They are also staging three helicopters.

Some people are currently stranded on their roofs; state and local agencies are working to identify and rescue these Kentuckians.

There are a number of people unaccounted for.

The Kentucky State Police, as well as emergency management professionals, are fully active and responding. The Governor mentioned they have an extra helicopter on hand that can be used as needed.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responding and preparing for debris removal, as is the Division of Forestry.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is assisting with water rescues.

Later today, the Governor will be posting a list of shelters that are being established. The shelters will include Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, which are also experiencing some challenges including loss of power.

More than 23,000 households are currently without power, and the state is working with multiple cell service providers to restore service.

The Governor said many communities in the impacted areas are also going to lose water temporarily. Water systems have already been disrupted in Martin and Pike counties.

Truckloads of water were ordered and are headed to Eastern Kentucky.

Specific situations include a school where several faculty members are currently stranded – no students or children are involved. And the state is checking on nursing homes and our seniors that may be vulnerable and is making plans to move them if necessary.

Gov. Beshear said that he is expecting a break in weather conditions for a couple of hours followed by another round of rain mid-afternoon. He is hoping it won’t be more than an inch. After that, officials are hoping there is a more significant break to allow water to recede.

“I’m asking everyone to pray. There are a lot of people out there who need help and are very scared right now. And we’re doing the very best we can to reach each and every one of them,” Gov. Beshear said.