PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Floodwaters that rushed through eastern Kentucky left one dead and seven unaccounted for as search teams combed the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday for those still missing with another round of rain threatening.
Emergency personnel in the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Johnson County are struggling with debris, downed power lines and difficult communication as they search for those who might be trapped in their homes, Kentucky State Police Trooper Stephen Mounts said. Some people were rescued from trees they had climbed to escape the floodwaters, according to county Sheriff Dwayne Price.
The missing range in age from 22 to 74.
The search area stretches more than eight miles, from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville — an area with some 500 homes and 1,200 residents, police said at a Tuesday morning news conference. Authorities estimate more than 150 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Four inches of rain fell in about an hour Monday night, said Regina McClure, the county’s emergency management shelter coordinator. Kentucky Emergency Management spokesman Buddy Rogers said more rain is expected Tuesday afternoon, raising fears of additional flooding across the state.
Kentucky Power reported 19,000 people still without power in eastern Kentucky.
Johnson and Rowan counties saw the worst of the flooding Monday, Rogers said, though authorities reported water rescues throughout Kentucky. The Courier-Journal in Louisville reported five water rescues in Jefferson County and a number of roads were closed due to flooding.
Mounts says the number unaccounted for is fluid and likely to change quickly, as those believed lost are discovered to have evacuated before the storm and others previously unknown are reported missing. Emergency personnel asked those who have loved ones missing to contact law enforcement.
“We’re just hoping for the best today,” McClure said. “They are going to search the whole area.”
The man who died was caught in floodwaters that stalled his vehicle, Price said. The victim stepped out of the vehicle and was pulled in by the rising water, he said.