The death toll is expected to continue to rise as recovery and rescue efforts continue in eastern Kentucky following devastating flooding this week.
On Saturday, at least 25 people had died following severe storms that caused record flooding as well as mudslides and landslides.
Governor Andy Beshear previously said six children were among the dead, but lowered the number to four at a press conference early Saturday afternoon after confirming that two of the victims were in fact adults.
“I fear we will find bodies in the coming weeks,” Beshear said. “Keep praying.”
Authorities have yet to be able to get an accurate tally of missing people as rescue teams struggle to get into hard-hit areas, some of them among the poorest in the country.
Making it harder is the fact that many affected areas remain without cell service, which limits people’s ability to make contact with affected loved ones, Beshear said.
More than 700 people have been rescued so far by helicopters and boats from National Guardsmen in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia as well as several other agencies assisting in rescue efforts, Beshear said.
“Our goal today is to get as many people as possible to safety,” he said, while urging people in affected areas to prepare for more rain in the days to come.
Flood alerts are expected to remain in place in parts of Kentucky through Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
“It’s not fair that it’s going to rain again,” Beshear said. “I don’t want to lose one more person.”
Just for the past two days, the affected areas have received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches of rain. Still, some waterways aren’t expected to peak until Saturday.
Around 16,000 electric customers were left without power on Saturday morning, according to Kentucky Power.
Fifteen emergency shelters have already been set up in the area to help anyone affected by the flooding, Beshear said.
Federal disaster assistance was made available to Kentucky after President Joe Biden issued a major disaster declaration, FEMA announced Friday.
Federal agency emergency personnel will provide 18 tanker trucks to help compensate for lack of water access in some areas as Kentucky is expected to experience high temperatures next week, Beshear said.
Due to lack of electricity, 19 water systems are operating with limited capacity, the governor said.
Nearly 27,000 connections are without water as of early Saturday afternoon, according to Beshear. About 29,000 other connections receive unsafe water that must be boiled before drinking.
Beshear stressed that authorities will likely remain in the recovery and rescue phase for several weeks, adding that they will have a better idea of damage estimates after the floodwaters dissipate.
Associated Press contributed.