New York August 3 2022: As Eastern Kentucky reels from historic flooding that has killed at least 37 people and left hundreds homeless, incoming extreme heat could complicate recovery efforts, warned Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear at a Tuesday morning press conference.
“It’s going to get really, really hot,” he said, “and that is our new weather challenge.”
Local temperatures are forecast to rise to around 80° to 90° Fahrenheit (27° to 32° Celsius) starting on Wednesday and continuing through the end of the week, according to the National Weather Service. But the combination of the heat and humidity could make it feel even hotter — up to or above 100° F. Some areas could also experience isolated thunderstorms this week.
The governor encouraged people to seek relief from the sun at various cooling centers set up across the flood-impacted region. “I know you may be out there working to salvage whatever you can, but be really careful starting Wednesday and Thursday when it gets hot,” said Beshear. “We’re bringing in water by the truckloads. We’re going to make sure we have enough for you but you’re going to need a cool place to at least take a break, if not spend part of these days.”
Groups disproportionately at risk from extreme heat include babies and young kids; people over 65; people who are pregnant, work or exercise outdoors, or have certain chronic medical conditions; and people who live in low-quality housing or are unhoused. But anyone can get sick from the heat if they aren’t careful, and the best way to stay safe is to drink a lot of water, wear light clothes and stay indoors as much as possible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting and dizziness, among others.
Climate change is not only making extreme heat and heavy rainfall more frequent and intense, it’s also increasing the chances of places experiencing overlapping or successive disasters, called compounding disasters. Disaster recovery can already take a long time in the US. Back-to-back events only complicate it further.
In Eastern Kentucky, the flood damage is estimated to take years to repair. The heavy rainfall started last Thursday night, triggering record flooding that inundated roads and wiped homes right off their foundations. As of Tuesday morning, 37 people were confirmed dead, according to Beshear, and more people remain missing. At least 191 people are being temporarily housed at state parks, and travel trailers are being brought in to help with immediate housing needs. The governor’s office is encouraging people to donate to the newly created Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund to help those affected.
“It is absolutely devastating. It’s going to take years to rebuild. People were left with absolutely nothing. Homes, we don’t know where they are. Just entirely gone,” Beshear said. “And we continue to find bodies of our brothers and sisters that we have lost.”