Withering heat was descending on a region of eastern Kentucky already reeling from massive flooding, forcing residents laboring to clean up after the deluge to cope with an oppressive new threat.
The grim task of cleaning up from the flooding continued, but rising heat and humidity prompted officials to open cooling centers Tuesday as forecasters warned of the risk of heat-related illnesses and some residents remained without power.
In Knott County, Kirsten Gomez said her flood-ravaged doublewide trailer was being gutted by her husband and cousin. They were stripping drywall, flooring and cabinets ruined by floodwaters from nearby Troublesome Creek that engulfed their home early last Thursday.
“It is so miserable. The humidity is so high, it takes your breath,” Gomez said Tuesday. “Your clothes stick to you. Your hair sticks to you. This mud is caked on you.
“But I’m just blessed that we don’t have rain anymore.”
The blast of heat and humidity comes as some residents try to salvage what they can, and as search-and-rescue crews continued looking for people unaccounted for days since the floods hit.
“Extreme heat, extreme humidity, that’s stressful in itself,” said Jerry Stacy, the emergency management director in hard-hit Perry County, Kentucky. “We’re just fighting through this and hoping that this weather don’t make it too stressful. It don’t get a lot worse than what it is.”