FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear declared a State of Emergency on Saturday due to a powerful severe weather system that brought heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and strong straight-line winds through Western, Eastern and South Central Kentucky.
What You Need To Know
- Kentucky started off the new year in a state of emergency after severe weather brought heavy winds and heavy flooding in many parts of the state
- Gov. Beshear declared the state of emergency on Saturday afternoon
- A cold front overnight on Saturday could complicated response efforts, Beshear said
- Possible tornadoes were reported in Hopkinsville and in Taylor County
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or deaths. The storms come just three weeks after deadly tornadoes tore through the region, killing more than 90 people in five states, including 77 in Kentucky.
Beshear officially declared the emergency Saturday afternoon. The severe weather caused flash flooding, loss of power and damage to public infrastructure and private properties.
Heavy rain brought totals of 2 to 5 inches through much of Kentucky. That was followed by a cold front overnight, which complicated response efforts, Beshear said. Casey County reported a rainfall total of 5.25 inches.
Flash flooding in Green, Barren, Taylor, Adair, Owsley, Breathitt and Casey counties resulted in numerous road closures and water rescues. High water was blocking all or parts of multiple roads in Floyd, Knott and Pike counties as of noon. Casey County and Owsley County have declared local states of emergency.
A tornado touchdown was reported in Hopkinsville, causing severe damage to downtown businesses, and a possible tornado touchdown was reported in Taylor County, where numerous households have been damaged.
Bowling Green, which was hard hit by the tornado outbreak in early December, also saw the storm spin up on New Year's Day.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were also issued for Logan, Simpson, Marion and Washington counties.
“It is devastating that we are once again experiencing severe weather just weeks after the deadly tornadoes hit Western Kentucky. Sadly, some counties have been affected by both of these events,” Gov. Beshear said in a press release. “We will continue to monitor the weather and provide needed updates. Everyone be aware, stay safe and seek shelter when advised.”
Kentucky Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations Center, and personnel from the Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Department of Public Health are monitoring the situation from the SEOC.
“Unfortunately, we continue to experience severe weather in the Commonwealth as we move into the new year, with impacts across our south central counties experiencing heavy rainfall, flash flooding, tornado strikes and continuous squall lines,” said Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management. “Please give way to emergency responders operating in numerous counties and stay off of transportation routes today if at all possible.”
Follow these steps to keep yourself safe after flooding:
- Watch your step. Floodwaters often hide sharp and dangerous debris, like broken glass and metal.
- Wear the appropriate protective clothing and gear such as boots, gloves and safety glasses when it comes to moving debris.
- Stay away from electrical utility equipment after a storm, or if it is wet, to prevent being electrocuted. Report any utility issues to your local utility company.
- Flooded homes are hazards. Get a professional to check for loose wires, mold and hidden damage before re-entering.
- Avoid walking in floodwater. It can be contaminated with oil, gasoline or sewage.
- Use generators or other gas-powered machinery only outdoors and away from windows.