“I believe climate change is real,” Governor Beshear, a Democrat, told reporters. “I believe that it is causing more severe weather. With that said, I don’t know about this one and whether it is or is not connected, and I don’t want to cheapen or politicize what these folks are going through.”
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Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency in eastern Kentucky. The flooding was a “dynamic and ongoing” situation, he said, adding that the water had yet to recede or even crest in many areas.
“It has been a tough night and maybe even a tougher morning,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton of the Kentucky National Guard said that state officials had helicopters and boats to rescue residents. Governor Beshear said that two faculty members at a school were among those who had been stranded.
Henry Johnson and his fiancée, Jennifer Richie, spent at least three hours clinging to, and then huddling on top of, their flooded trailer after storm water carried it a short distance from where it had sat in Chavies, Ky. Ms. Richie’s mother was stuck inside, and they initially feared she had drowned.
Mr. Johnson, 32, and Ms. Richie, 41, lost everything in the storm, including their home, cars, shoes and eyeglasses, Diane Johnson, Mr. Johnson’s mother, said. Mrs. Johnson said she received a text at about 12:30 a.m. from her son saying that the flood had come for their property.
Mrs. Johnson said that her son and Ms. Richie ducked underwater and swam out of the trailer as it flooded.