The Latest: Search resumes for 6 missing in Kentucky floods

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2015 8:43 PM

FLAT GAP, Ky. (AP) — Search crews are combing the hilly Appalachian terrain in Kentucky after floodwaters killed three people and left five others missing.

A look at the latest developments:

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6:20 p.m.

After the body of a third flood victim was found Wednesday, Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby identified him as 22-year-old Richard Blair of the Flat Gap area and said the cause of death was drowning.

Frisby said the body was found on a bank of Mud Lick Creek in a pile of tree debris a short distance from the mobile home where he lived.

The body of 74-year-old Willa Mae Pennington was found Tuesday about a half-mile downstream from the spot where Blair's body was found. The body of another victim, 56-year-old Herman Eddie May Sr., was also found Tuesday along Patterson Creek.

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4:40 p.m.

Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby confirmed that a third body was found Wednesday afternoon.

The body was that of a 22-year-old man, Frisby said. He has not released the man's identity.

WLEX-TV in Lexington first reported the body had been found.

The body was found less than a mile from one of the others found Tuesday and about 1 ½ miles from the other, he said.

Searchers found him downstream from a mobile home, off the side of the road in water.

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3:30 p.m.

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and other officials on Wednesday toured the eastern Kentucky community where flooding washed out dozens of homes. Two people have been found dead, and searchers continue trying to find others who remain missing.

"We met some of the families who are out there now trying to recover as many personal items as they can, and their lives have been destroyed," Luallen said during a news conference.

She said state officials have contacted the White House seeking assistance and have been assured Washington officials are aware of the situation and will make it a top priority.

She said a site will be set up for families to find out what types of assistance are available.

Luallen said she made the trip at Gov. Steve Beshear's request because he is traveling out of state. Beshear's chief of staff, Larry Bond, and state Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini, and others made the trip with her.

Luallen said they flew in by helicopter and had a driving tour of the impacted areas.

"I think all of us who are here and who have seen this in person recognize this as a truly devastating natural disaster," she said.

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11:15 a.m.

Two men, still missing two days after a flash flood ravaged this eastern Kentucky community, were last seen being swept away by the rushing water.

Police on Wednesday confirmed that those men are officially classified as missing, while the fate of four others remains uncertain, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Steven Mounts said at a Wednesday morning press briefing.

The Monday afternoon flood in rural Johnson County killed at least two, and rescue teams continue an arduous search through knee-deep mud and miles of wreckage for the others.

Police reported Tuesday that six people were unaccounted for. While eye-witness accounts confirm two were swallowed by the water, officials said the other four reported missing by their families might be safely evacuated or stranded in their homes, without power or phone service. Rescue teams are going door-to-door to try to find them as desperate families wait for word.

Seven cadaver dogs are aiding in the search in the most devastated area, which stretches eight rugged miles, from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville, about 120 miles east of Lexington.

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9:45 a.m.

Johnson County Emergency Management Director Gary McClure says the search for the six missing in floodwaters has resumed in eastern Kentucky.

He said flood waters have receded and creeks are back in their banks despite a second round of thunderstorms that hit Tuesday night. He said a burst of rain caused some minor flash flooding away from the hardest hit areas, but nothing significant.

Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby says crews will go back over the same areas again as well as start new searches to find the missing.

Two people died in raging floodwaters that hit Monday.

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8 a.m.

A convoy of National Guard vehicles and heavy equipment including excavators and dump trucks, are heading into the hardest hit area of flood-plagued eastern Kentucky on Wednesday morning as crews prepare to resume searching for the missing.

Two people were killed and six disappeared in a raging flood that hit the area Monday.

Rescue crews combing the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday were hampered by more heavy rains, swarming mosquitoes, soupy humidity and knee-deep mud.

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

Authorities say the search area stretches more than 8 miles, from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville — a rural area with 500 homes and 1,200 residents.

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The 6:20 p.m. item has been updated with daughter saying Herman Eddie May Sr. was 56, not 65 as the coroner previously stated.