In a press briefing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Beshear said the region had experienced a "tough night, and maybe an even tougher morning," with more rain in the forecast later in the day. The governor had called a state of emergency, he said, as streets and homes in several counties throughout the region had been flooded after rain hit the eastern portion of the state overnight.
A flood warning was in effect for several Eastern Kentucky counties until 3 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service of Jackson. More than six inches of rain fell overnight in much of the region, a meteorologist with the department said.
Keep up with updating coverage from our reporters in Eastern Kentucky:
12:30 p.m.: First deaths confirmed
Beshear said in his 12:30 p.m. press conference that multiple deaths have been confirmed due to the flooding. He said a Perry County native, an 81-year-old woman, has died, and other two other victims have been reported in Perry and Knott counties.
He said in the conference that deaths are expected to rise into the double digits. There are a number people that are still waiting to be rescued, he added.
"In a word, this event is devastating, and I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time. There are going to be a lot of people out there that need our help, there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be displaced, and this is yet another disaster that is going to take some time to rebuild."
11 a.m.: National Guard dispatched to eastern Kentucky counties
The National Guard has been mobilized, according to Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton and Beshear. The situation is "dynamic" and developing, the governor said, but major property damage is expected and hundreds of families are expected to be displaced.
"This is going to be yet another event that it's going to take not months but likely years for many families to rebuild and recover from," Beshear said.
In Perry County alone, according to Deputy Sheriff Scott Sandlin, 20 people were unaccounted for early Thursday morning. The region had been hit with major flooding, he said, with several bridges and roads covered in water and other structures destroyed.
Resources for families
Three state parks – Pine Mountain, Buckhorn Lake and Jennie Wiley – have been opened for people who lost their homes, Beshear said, "because a lot of people are going to either fully lose their home or it is not going to be habitable for some time."
Shelters are also open at the Breathitt County Courthouse at 1137 Main St. and the First Presbyterian Church in Hazard, at 160 Broadway St., Beshear said.
In Hazard, meanwhile, the American Red Cross Kentucky Region opened a flood response shelter in Perry County and beyond. According to their spokesperson, Amber Youngblood, the group has mobilized resources since 1 a.m. Wednesday. The group's Hazard office can be reached at 606-629-3344.
More tha 23,000 people were without power when Beshear spoke at 9:30 a.m. That figure was still accurate as of 11 a.m., according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages across the nation.
Eastern Kentucky flood:Kentucky opens flooding shelters in state parks, courthouses, churches
How much rain fell in Eastern Kentucky?
Dustin Jordan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Jackson, said Clark Creek in Knott County had seen 6.82 inches of rain in the past two days, and 6.23 of those were just in the past 24 hours. Perry County had seen 7 inches of rain in the past two days, he said, and the city of Prestonsburg in Floyd County had received 1.67 inches of rain in the past 24 hours but had seen more precipitation in the days leading up to the flooding. About 4.7 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period in Breathitt County, too, he said.
Jackson's National Weather Service office is located in Breathitt County – employees cannot currently access it, Jordan said, as roads by the facility are covered in water. Beshear said he was aware of several people trapped in a school in the region as well.
He also said that at least 1 to 2 inches of rain can be expected between Thursday night into Friday south of Interstate 64.
Heavy rain that fell earlier in the week in that region had already caused some flooding, several social media users noted. Photos and videos taken by residents of the region were spread far and wide Thursday morning as many across the state woke up to the devastation.