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When water began filling the mobile home of Amber Smith and her husband, Riley Noble, early Thursday morning, the couple had only minutes to get their four young children dressed and escape.
Hours later on Friday afternoon, the bodies of all their children had been found in Knott County, the Lexington Herald Reader reported.
Maddison Noble, 8, Riley Jr., 6, Nevaeh Noble, 4, and Chance Noble, 2, were among the victims of the deadly Kentucky floods that have killed at least 25 people as of Saturday.
Smith’s cousin, Brittany Trejo, told the New York Times that the couple got a flash flood alert at 2 a.m. on Thursday and within moments, the family had climbed to the top of their trailer to wait out the flood.
But seeing as their home was about to swept away, the parents held on tight to their children and managed to float to a nearby tree where they shouted for help, Trejo said, recounting what Smith told her about the tragic encounter.
Even though Smith and Noble held on their kids for as long as possible, the children were eventually swept away by the force of the current.
“The rage of the water took their children out of their hands,” Trejo told the Times.
The grieving parents remained stranded at the tree and were rescued after approximately eight hours by strangers.
After one sibling’s body was found, the family had to endure the wait of finding their other missing children. But by Friday afternoon, all four bodies were discovered.
Family members recalled how tight-knit the young family was.
The kids’ uncle, Steven Smith, told the Times that Riley and Chance were always playing together and even in death, their bodies were found the closest to each other.
“I know they hung on to each other till the very end,” Steven Smith said.
A GoFundMe created by Trejo for funeral costs has raised more than $38,000. She shared a text message from Smith, 23, who said, “Thank You all Truly From the bottom of my heart I appreciate all the help.”
Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press conference Saturday that search and rescue missions are ongoing and that the death toll will continue to rise.
“We continue to pray for families that have suffered unfathomable loss, some having lost almost everyone in their household,” Beshear said.
Earlier reports said the fatalities included six children, but the governor clarified that two were later confirmed to be adults.
As of Saturday afternoon, at least 1,432 people had been rescued by first responders from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. More than 18,000 power outages were being reported across the state.
It is expected to be dry through Sunday afternoon, but the forecast predicted rain later on Sunday through parts of Monday, with counties below the Mountain Parkway getting another inch to possibly two inches of rain, Beshear said, adding it “could be rough.”
Weather disasters like this are inextricably linked to human-induced climate change. The planet has already warmed 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, according to NASA, making disasters worse. Heat waves are getting hotter, more frequent, and longer-lasting while heavier rainfall across the US is triggering more inland flooding. Wildfire seasons are getting longer and hurricanes are getting wetter and more dangerous. And the cost of climate disasters is soaring.
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