Trapped homeowners swam to safety and others were rescued by boat as record flash flooding killed at least 16 people in Kentucky and swamped entire Appalachian towns, prompting a frenzied search for survivors Friday through some of the poorest communities in America.
Authorities warned the death toll would likely grow sharply as search efforts continued. The rain let up early Friday morning, but some waterways were not expected to crest until Saturday and more storms were forecast to roll through the region early next week.
It’s the latest in a string of catastrophic deluges that have hammered parts of the U.S. this summer, including St. Louis earlier this week and again on Friday. Scientists warn climate change is making weather disasters more common.
Water poured down hillsides and into Appalachian valleys and hollows where it swelled creeks and streams coursing through small towns. The torrent engulfed homes and businesses and trashed vehicles. Mudslides marooned some people on steep slopes.