But reaching the missing is not the only challenge. Many people known to have survived are still stranded because of the faded roads — and there’s a desperate need to deliver supplies they need or move them, says a resident of flood-stricken Knott County.
“I still have aunts and uncles stuck in hollers. They’re diabetics, they need insulin,” Knott County resident Zack Hall told CNN Tuesday morning.
“I went to visit one yesterday — was lucky enough to get there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there was no road… and that’s what people need to understand, the infrastructure here is just completely destroyed and it makes relief efforts difficult,” Hall said.
At least 37 people have died in the floods, Governor Andy Beshear said Monday. The flooding started early Thursday with heavy rainfall in areas already saturated from previous rainy days. The death toll is expected to rise.
“We are still looking for people and unfortunately we are still finding those bodies,” Beshear told CNN Monday night.
Attempts to reach stranded people have been complicated by dilapidated infrastructure, officials say. Although cell service is being restored, some areas are still without, leaving many unable to contact loved ones or emergency services.
Suffocating heat won’t help. Wednesday will be the driest day of the week, but it could send temperatures soaring into the 90s. The humidity will make it feel like close to 100 degrees, CNN meteorologists say.
“We still have back roads and state roads that have been demolished, and our bridges are out. And so it’s really hard to get to some of the most remote places,” Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman told CNN on Monday.
The power and water outages are especially troubling for those stranded and unable to access supplies easily, said Knott County resident Hall.
“With the heat, once it dries up for the day, it’s just stuffy, humid… …A lot of people using oxygen that don’t have power are already having a hard time,” Hall said. “I think the worst is yet to come if we aren’t able to clear paths and get to these people.”
More people with all-terrain vehicles are needed to help in the area, he said.
“If they can just come and help, help us move things, help us clear paths, help us deliver water, food and medicine to people. (And) get people out who want to leave the area – we have just as many hands need on deck if we can have,” Hall said.
Traffic problems make it difficult to know how many people are missing, says governor
The infrastructure challenges make it “almost impossible” to get an idea of the exact number of people still missing, Beshear said Monday.
Since it started last week, floods have devastated several provinces and displaced dozens of people from their homes. The severe flooding has wiped homes from their foundations, ripped away entire livelihoods, including farms and businesses, and left residents with catastrophic damage to their property, vehicles and possessions.
Rescue teams have been battling the weather for days as they work to reach the trapped residents.
A stunning video shows an 83-year-old woman being rescued by a Blackhawk helicopter in Breathitt County. A rescue team found she and four other family members trapped in an attic on Thursday, Wolfe County Search & Rescue Team spokesman Drew Stevens told CNN.
The woman was unharmed, Stevens said, but a male relative suffered a fractured collarbone and was taken to hospital. He has since been released.
State mourns after several disasters
Speaking Monday at an event in western Kentucky for those affected by the tornadoes, Beshear acknowledged that Kentuckians across the state have been affected by deadly natural disasters.
“The floods in eastern Kentucky have been harsh, as have these tornadoes,” he said, adding that natural disasters “tear the fabric of who we are.”
“I was at a breaking point last night because that happens to all of us — it’s okay not to be okay,” Beshear said. “We get through it because we have to. We have no other choice.”
The death toll from the floods spans at least five counties and includes four Knott County siblings who were swept away by the strong current. The children were identified by their aunt to CNN as siblings Chance, 2; Nevaeh, 4; Riley Jr., 6; and Madison, 8.
“I went to the site of what used to be their home yesterday,” Beshear said of the family that lost the four children. “I was standing in front of what would have been their front door and I saw one of the kid’s swings in the back. I think the oldest was in second grade. They didn’t even get the same time on this earth as my kids have already enjoyed. ”
Michelle Watson, Dakin Andone, Caroll Alvarado, Amy Simonson and Monica Garrett of CNN contributed to this report.