Tri-State search and rescue teams deploy to flooded areas in Eastern Kentucky

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Ohio Task Force 1, billed as one of the nation’s strongest search and rescue/disaster response teams, deployed to Kentucky Thursday as deadly flooding continues to plague eastern parts of the Commonwealth.

Members of the Cincinnati Fire Department deployed with OH-TF1, the department says.

Parts of eastern and southeastern Kentucky got more than six inches of rain in a 24-hour period [map], causing severe flash flooding. More rain is expected.

Beshear called it one of the “worst and most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history,” adding the damage is massive with hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed. He declared a State of Emergency and activated the National Guard early Thursday.

MORE | Drone video of the destruction | ‘Heartbreaking:’ Buckhorn School in Perry Co. severely damaged by flash flooding

Story continues below.

OH-TF1 received its activation orders Thursday afternoon, according to Public Information Officer Phil Sinewe.

The team sent a rescue team comprising 16 members and five vehicles specializing in aquatic search and rescue efforts.

“The team trains for a wide variety of rescue needs, and one of them is water rescue,” Sinewe said. “The members can function in both swift and static water situations. The team will place 16 highly trained personnel along with boats and logistical supplies directly into the field to assist our neighbors in Kentucky. While OHTF1 is proud to service the entire country, the citizens of Ohio should be extra proud to assist neighbors so close to home.”

The team left from OH-TF1′s headquarters in Vandalia around 7:30 p.m.

The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has been set up to help the areas affected by flooding. Click here to learn more about how you can help.

OH-TF1, a FEMA urban search and rescue task force based in Dayton, has deployed three times in the last year.

In June 2021, the team went to the site of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida. In August 2021, it traveled to Louisiana in preparation for Hurricane Ida’s landfall.

Most recently, in December 2021, the task force deployed to western Kentucky, where four tornadoes claimed nearly 100 lives. Veterans of the task force said upon returning that they had never before seen destruction on that scale.

Since the task force’s creation in 1998, it has deployed to 28 disaster areas, thirteen of which involved hurricane responses.

The team also responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Columbia shuttle debris recovery site.

The Northern Kentucky All-Hazards Incident Management Team and the Northern Kentucky Technical Rescue Team were also requested by the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management/State EOC-HQ in Frankfort to deploy to Eastern Kentucky.

Members of the teams are from Campbell, Kenton, Boone and Pendleton counties in Kentucky as well as Butler County, Ohio.

A total of 32 team members from Northern Kentucky are currently deployed.

Joining the flood-rescue efforts in Eastern Kentucky are 11 Covington firefighters.

“The firefighters, who drove down an inflatable ‘rigid’ Zodiac Milpro ERB 380 watercraft, left Covington early Thursday evening and reported to a National Guard Armory in Hazard this morning for orders,” said Deputy Chief of Operations Mike Bloemer.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Services is also being deployed to assist with rescue and recovery efforts.

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