Ohio Task Force 1 deploys to Kentucky for water search, rescue

A water rescue team from Ohio Task Force 1 is in eastern Kentucky to assist with search and rescue operations following devastating flooding in Kentucky that has left people trapped in homes, others unaccounted for and at least 16 dead.

A 16-member team with five vehicles and four boats — two metal and two inflatable — left Thursday evening from the search and rescue unit’s base in Vandalia for a “very focused, water-capable mission,” said Jim O’Connor, a task force leader and lieutenant with the Columbus Division of Fire, as the team was getting ready.

ExplorePHOTOS: Ohio Task Force 1 water search, rescue team deploys to Kentucky

“We’re going to be able to perform rescues, help them search the flooded areas for any victims,” O’Connor said. “We working in support of the local authorities. Our mission will be guided by what their needs are and how that we can assist them.”

The death toll in flash floods is expected to reach double digits, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said after parts of eastern Kentucky received more than 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. At least 16 people have been killed, with the death toll expected to rise, the governor said.

ExplorePHOTOS: Heavy rains cause flooding, landslides in easterrn Kentucky

The task force was directed to a staging area in Hazard, Ky., to await assignment.

The task force is self-sufficient for up to 72 hours, and after that, with support from Federal Emergency Management Agency resources, is capable of a two-week deployment.

“How long we are there is how long Kentucky needs the assistance,” O’Connor said.

A message posted on the task force’s Facebook page Friday afternoon stated that “Ohio Task Force 1 remains engaged in the rescue operations of the southeastern Kentucky flooding. Due to the remote area, the team is out of contact at this time. Will update as information becomes available.”

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

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