Kentucky’s governor declared an emergency Wednesday after heavy – and potentially record-setting – rain caused widespread flooding throughout the state.
If verified, that would establish a new 24-hour rainfall record for the state, the service said. The record heading into Wednesday was 10.48 inches of rain, set in Louisville in 1997, the weather service said.
“An incredible amount of water in a very short duration unfortunately,” the weather service said.
“Please pray for Mayfield and areas of Western Kentucky impacted by significant flooding from last night’s storms,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release. “We’re working to assess the damage and respond. Just like every challenge we’ve faced, we will be there for all those affected. We will get through this together.”
Mayfield still is recovering from a devastating tornado in 2021 that left at least 80 people dead in Kentucky. The tornado was one of at least 50 that struck several states that December.
Wednesday morning, the whole town was covered in water.
Officials received the first calls for assistance around 4:30 a.m., Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan said, and first responders began knocking on doors to help residents evacuate.
The sun was shining again by Wednesday afternoon, and most roads had reopened by the evening, O’Nan said.
“By mid-morning no one had checked into a shelter, so we are counting our blessings,” the mayor said.
A ‘disaster area’
Tia Nalani Nathaniel Rhodes, who lives with her family in Mayfield, said she first noticed the neighborhood was flooding around 3 a.m. Wednesday. A nearby creek overflowed and added to the flash flooding, she said.
“The water reached the front door of my home,” Rhodes said. “The insides of many cars and trucks were also flooded and everyone’s yard furniture is floating around. Mayfield is a disaster area.”
A dozen roads were closed following the floods and others were washed out, the Graves County Sheriff’s Office said.
It urged “extreme caution” on roads with washouts, where the asphalt has broken and fallen away.
The sheriff’s office called it “major flooding like many have never seen.”
Beshear urged residents to keep themselves and their families safe.
“Remember, we can replace stuff and we can rebuild homes. We don’t want to lose any lives,” Beshear said in a video as he signed the emergency declaration.
CNN’s Taylor Ward and Jillian Sykes contributed to this report.