The death toll in Kentucky now exceeds those killed in last summer’s Waverly, Tennessee floods. Twenty people died following 15 inches of rain in a day, which set Tennessee’s daily rainfall record.
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HAZARD — A week after a 500-year-flood hit the Knoxville area, flooding rains in Southeast Kentucky inundated homes, commercial districts and killed at least eight people.
A flood warning continued into early Friday morning for affected counties, most notably Perry, where the North Fork of the Kentucky River overflowed its banks, leading to major damage along the waterway.
“This is likely to go down as one of the worst flash flood events to ever hit the state,” WKYT meteorologist Chris Bailey said on Twitter.
Anderson and Knox County were battered by 8 inches of rain within about six hours July 20-21, leading to flooding from Claxton and Clinton to Fort Sanders in downtown Knoxville. On July 12, an estimated 8 inches of rain fell in the Smoky Mountains, damaging at least one campground, roads, and trails, including Rainbow Falls Trail, which had recently been completely rehabilitated with help from a Trails Forever grant via Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
All water crossings on the trail were washed out, and roads and trails in the Greenbrier area remain closed or tightly controlled as the park service works to assess and repair flood damage. Subsequent rain last week caused even more damage there, and washed out a highly trafficked bridge in Sevier County on Jones Cove Road.
In the latest round of Appalachian flooding, the National Weather Service said that 10 inches of rain fell in the formerly coal-rich Perry County, Kentucky area Wednesday into Thursday, destroying homes, schools and businesses and leaving high water stained with petroleum, sewage and other toxins coursing across the landscape.
The number of fatalities was expected to increase.
This story will be updated.