The Latest: 2 killed by severe flooding in Kentucky

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2015 9:31 PM

FLAT GAP, Ky. (AP) — Floodwaters in Kentucky have killed one man and one woman, left six more missing and sent rescue crews to comb the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday, as the threat of more floods bore down on rescue efforts.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Steven Mounts said emergency personnel in the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Johnson County struggled with the debris and difficult communication as they went door-to-door Tuesday, searching for those who might be trapped in their homes. Some people were rescued from trees they climbed to escape the floodwaters, according to county Sheriff Dwayne Price. The missing range in age from 22 to 74.

Here is a look at the latest developments:

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8 p.m.

Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby has identified the two people whose bodies have been found as 65-year-old Herman Eddie May Sr. and 74-year-old Willa Mae Pennington, both of the Flat Gap area.

Frisby said May was driving a sport-utility vehicle in a low-lying area when flood waters from Patterson Creek started sweeping away his vehicle. May got out and was apparently swept away by swift water. Frisby said his death was caused by drowning.

May, who was alone in the vehicle, lived less than a half-mile from where he was swept away.

Pennington's son Kevin Johnson told The Associated Press that the last time he saw his mother was as she was being carried through the rushing water by his son Scott Johnson, who had already saved his father, his uncle, a sister and a nephew. Scott Johnson, 34, is among those missing.

Frisby said Pennington died of drowning and was found in a pile of debris from other shattered mobile homes that had been swept away. She was found by a neighbor who was walking along the creek bed looking for missing people.

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5 p.m.

Officials in eastern Kentucky say a second person has been found dead after floodwaters rushed through the region, leaving six others unaccounted for.

Teams searched on the ground and used a helicopter in the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday, with the threat of more floods bearing down on rescue efforts.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Steven Mounts said 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.

The second victim was a woman, found Tuesday afternoon.

Officials said 15 people were treated at a local hospital and released.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency to give local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in recovery efforts.

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1 p.m.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has declared a state of emergency after severe storms swept through the state, leaving one person dead, seven unaccounted for and widespread damage in multiple counties.

In a statement Tuesday, Beshear said the declaration would give local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in public safety and recovery efforts.

The hardest-hit areas include Johnson and Rowan counties in eastern Kentucky, which are struggling with debris, downed power lines and difficult communication as they search for the missing.

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11 a.m.

Flood waters that rushed through eastern Kentucky mountains left one dead, seven unaccounted for and an estimated 150 homes damaged or destroyed.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Stephen Mounts says emergency personnel searching for the missing 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.

Regina McClure, the county's emergency management shelter coordinator, says the county was saturated with about 4 inches of rain in about an hour Monday evening. More rain is expected Tuesday.

Emergency personnel asked that people stay away from the area, and those missing loved ones should contact law enforcement.

Mounts says the number unaccounted for is fluid and likely to change quickly.

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5:50 a.m.

At least one person is dead and others are unaccounted for after heavy rains caused flooding in eastern Kentucky.

And Kentucky Emergency Management spokesman Buddy Rogers says more rain is expected Tuesday, raising fears of additional flooding across the state. Regina McClure, a local emergency management volunteer in Johnson County, said they were already getting reports of water coming into homes early Tuesday.

Rogers says the hardest hit areas in Monday afternoon's flooding were Johnson and Rowan counties.

In Johnson County, coroner J.R. Frisby told the Lexington Herald-Leader a man died Monday after getting out of his vehicle and trying to walk through floodwaters.

Also Monday, Rogers says people had to be rescued from homes in a community in Rowan County.