Beshear declares state of emergency due to severe weather across much of Kentucky

Published 10:53 pm Sunday, January 2, 2022

Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flash flooding cause damage in multiple counties

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a State of Emergency due to a powerful severe weather system generating heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, and strong straight-line winds impacting much of Western, Eastern, and South Central Kentucky.

The severe weather caused flash flooding, loss of power, and damage of public infrastructure and private properties.

Heavy rain bringing totals of 2 to 5 inches is expected throughout the day in much of Kentucky, followed by a cold front tonight, which could complicate response efforts. Casey County reported a rainfall total of 5.25 inches.

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Flash flooding in Green, Barren, Taylor, Adair, Owsley, Breathitt, and Casey counties has 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. Severe thunderstorm warnings have also been 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. “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.”

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.