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Flooding, storms blamed for six weekend deaths, including one locally

A six-year-old Shelby County boy swept into a creek became another fatality of widespread storms that claimed at least five other lives over the weekend after spawning tornadoes and causing widespread flooding in multiple states, including Ohio, where the National Guard was activated.

Officials identified the boy Monday as Rylan Ferguson.

Shelby County searchers in boats, on downstream bridges and in a helicopter overhead with night-vision and infrared equipment were unable to locate the boy Sunday after soft ground under him gave way and he fell into a swollen Mosquito Creek. His body was discovered about 10:30 a.m. Monday by a resident in the area of Knoop-Johnston Road about two miles from where the Fairlawn Elementary School student disappeared, authorities said.

RELATED: Body of 6-year-old who fell into creek has been found

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The weekend’s deadly weather stretched from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.

In southwestern Michigan, the body of a 48-year-old man was found floating in floodwaters Sunday in Kalamazoo; in Kentucky, authorities said two men died in submerged vehicles while a 79-year-old woman died after a tornado destroyed her Adairville home; in northeast Arkansas, an 83-year-old man was killed after high winds toppled a trailer home.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined governors in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri in declaring disaster emergencies. The emergency declaration allows the governor to use state resources, including activating the National Guard.

About 40 Soldiers with the 1191st Engineering Company based in Portsmouth deployed to build floodgates to fend off rising Ohio River waters alongside the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency and the city of Portsmouth Flood Defense Division.

Other counties affected by the declaration are Adams, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Columbiana, Gallia, Hamilton, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Monroe, Meigs, Muskingum and Washington.

Long after the rain ended, though, National Weather Service flood warnings and advisories of indefinite length remained in effect Monday for broad swaths of southwest Ohio as the weekend’s deluge — which set a 24-hour record in the area — continued to push south down area streams and rivers to the Ohio River, where the worst flooding is concentrated.

Saturday’s rainfall total of 1.84 inches in Dayton broke the old record of 1.63 inches set in 2016. With 5.4-inches this month, February 2018 ranks fourth in rainfall totals in the Miami Valley, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

RELATED: Dayton February rain: How 2018 compares to record-shattering years

The Ohio River at Cincinnati — out of its banks, across many roadways and into Paul Brown Stadium — is at the highest level in 21 years. The river crested Sunday about four feet shy of the 64.7 feet reached during deadly flooding in 1997. Forecasters expect flooding to persist through the week in Cincinnati on the river swollen all the way from Pittsburgh to Louisville.

The National Weather Service has confirmed two small tornadoes touched down early Sunday morning in southwest Ohio causing damage. Shortly after midnight tornadoes touched down in Felicity in Clermont County and northeast of Hamersville in Brown County. No injuries were reported.

Closer to home in Clark County, two donkeys were rescued early Sunday after being stuck in water up to their necks in a flooded field. Springfield Twp. Fire Department was called to the 3600 block of Lower Valley Pike. A fence was cut and rescue workers walked the donkeys to the road, according to Clark County dispatch.

More sunshine is expected today with clouds increasing at night. Highs will be in the upper 50s near 60. Scattered showers are expected to return Wednesday afternoon into the evening.

MORE: Dry time today before rain returns mid-week

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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