Kentucky floods kill 8, more deaths expected, governor says

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July 28 (Reuters) - Flooding in eastern Kentucky has caused at least eight deaths, Governor Andy Beshear said on Thursday, and the death toll is expected to reach double digits as water continues to rise.

A series of storms drenching the eastern part of the state has dropped water that has yet to crest, leaving damage that could take years to repair, said Beshear, who declared 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.

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"Hundreds will lose their homes."

Among the dead was an 81-year-old woman in Perry County, and the local authorities say several people are unaccounted for, though an exact figure was not yet known Thursday night.

"This is an ongoing natural disaster, with more rain expected tonight that could worsen the situation," Beshear said.

The flooding left 24,000 households without power in eastern Kentucky, according to the Poweroutage.us website.

Roads looked like rivers, with water as high as the leaves of nearby trees and power poles sticking up from greenish brown water, in videos posted by local media.

The state activated the national guard and the state police to use helicopters and boats to rescue people marooned among the floodwaters, Beshear said.

Evacuation centers were opened in state parks and other facilities, but Beshear warned that some of the facilities themselves were hard-hit by the storms, and may not have power or some amenities.

Fresh water will also be difficult to find in parts of the flooded region, and so trucks will be bringing in drinking water, he said.

There was a 30% chance that the hard-hit area around the city of Hazard in the Cumberland Mountain foothills in Appalachia would continue to see heavy rain and storms Thursday night, and an 80% chance on Friday, the National Weather Service said. The region remains under a flood warning until just after midnight early Friday.

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Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California, and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Sandra Maler and Michael Perry

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