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Kentucky seeking federal help as floodwaters cause damage

Kentucky's governor toured parts of his state hard by heavy rains Tuesday and pledged to seek federal assistance after massive flooding inundated several areas.

Gov. Andy Beshear said “parts of cities are underwater in eastern Kentucky” and Kentucky National Guard members are assisting local and county officials. The governor visited a hard-hit area in Calloway County in western Kentucky on Tuesday.

Aerial photos showed cars and other vehicles nearly under water, and dark waters swirling in streets of some cities.

The city of Beattyville, Ky., sits underwater following heavy rains which caused the Kentucky River to flood, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Alex SlitzLexington Herald-Leader via AP)

“These weather events have been brutal on Kentucky,” Beshear said at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Floodwaters were receding in many parts of Kentucky on Tuesday, but problems remained.

State officials said the Kentucky River in Breathitt County was putting pressure on an earthen dam there, forcing the county to call for about 1,000 residents in Jackson to evacuate. Beshear said the evacuations were a precaution.

Ricky Keeton, left, of the Oil Springs Fire Department, and Michael Oiler, of the Thelma Fire Department, make their way through floodwaters as they conduct a water rescue following heavy rain in Paintsville, Ky., Monday, March 1, 2021. (Ryan C. HermensLexington Herald-Leader via AP)

The state sent engineers to assess the problem and emergency officials are placing sandbags to help control the erosion, state Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said.

Nearly 50 counties and cities in Kentucky have issued disaster declarations, according to state Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett.

Dossett said the state has reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and asked them to send an investigator to Kentucky to view the damage.

In this photo taken by a drone, a boat weaves through partially submerged cars and trailers in the city of Beattyville, Ky., following heavy rains which caused the Kentucky River to flood, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Alex SlitzLexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Brad Newnam, of Beattyville, Ky., crosses a flooded East Main Street while checking on businesses in the area in downtown Beattyville, Ky., Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Heavy rains caused the Kentucky River to flood most of downtown Beattyville. (Alex SlitzLexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Phillip Lucas, of Beattyville, Ky., overlooks a flooded Main Street after heavy rains caused the Kentucky River to flood most of downtown Beattyville, Ky., Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Lucas owns a building along Main Street and was preparing to assess the damage. (Alex SlitzLexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Brandon Lynch, of Beattyville, Ky., works to clear water inside of Newnam Funeral Home after heavy rains caused the Kentucky River to flood most of downtown Beattyville, Ky., Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Alex SlitzLexington Herald-Leader via AP)