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Eastern Kentucky Flooding: Ohio Task Force 1 sending additional 31 members, resources

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(UPDATE) July @11:26 p.m.: Ohio Task Force 1 is hoping to leave by midnight.

Jim O’Connor told News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis as the water recedes in Kentucky, there needs to be more boots on the ground to search for people.

“We are able to provide assistance to them,” he said. “We able to provide assurance and help them and the appreciation that you see from those people is the thing that keeps us doing this.”

This team is expected to go to Lexington Kentucky and then they go to wherever they are assigned to.

July 29 @ 6:46 p.m.: Ohio Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue is sending an additional 31 members to join the 16-member unit already in Hazard, Kentucky, in response to the flooding in the eastern part of the commonwealth.

The additional members are skilled in the various aspects of search and rescue operations and their specific destination has yet to be determined, Phil Sinewe, task force public information officer, said. The now 47-member team will be staged outside Hazard, Kentucky.

Friday, the 16-member water rescue unit spent the day in boats in the area of Jackson, Kentucky, going house to house looking for people.

“We are seeing a lot of high water and significant structural damages,” task force leader Adam Landis said in a task force update released to media. “The team is doing a phenomenal job as always. Spirits are good and we are helping a lot of people.”

The additional members are planning to leave the task force’s headquarters in Vandalia sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight.

>> RELATED: Eastern Kentucky Flooding: What you can do to help

July 29 @ 1:38 p.m.: The Ohio Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue unit is in the area of Hazard, Kentucky, awaiting its first assignment in the flood devastated eastern part of the commonwealth.

The water rescue unit is prepared for water-specific, search and rescue efforts.

>>RELATED: Death toll in Kentucky flooding is at least 16, governor says

July 28: Members of Ohio Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue left the team’s headquarters in Vandalia on Thursday night, headed for flooded eastern Kentucky, where WKYT in Lexington is reporting at least eight deaths.

A water rescue team - a 16-member unit of the 220-member team - departed for eastern and southeastern Kentucky in five vehicles, following torrential downpours Wednesday night.

Adam Landis, a Dayton firefighter and task force leader for this Kentucky deployment, said the unit is prepared to remain in Kentucky for as many as two weeks.

Even Schumann, task force program manager, told News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis, “our mission is to help people usually when they’re experiencing one of the worst moments of their lives.”

“The team trains for a wide variety of rescue needs, and one of them is water rescue. 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,” Phil Sinewe, Ohio Task Force 1 public information officer, said in a prepared statement.

“While OH-TF1 is proud to service the entire country, the citizens of Ohio should be extra proud to assist neighbors so close to home.”

Rainfall in parts of eastern Kentucky on Wednesday were over 6 inches in a 24-hour period prompting severe flash flooding, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said.

Multiple counties have issued “state of emergencies” and the state has issued an overall “state of emergency” as well, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday, which allows for the state to deploy the National Guard and bring additional resources to areas hit by flooding.

More rain was expected Thursday night. The number of people still unaccounted for was not known.

“Unfortunately I expect double-digit deaths in this flooding. This isn’t just a disaster, it is an ongoing natural disaster. We are in the midst of it and for some places its going to continue through tonight,” Beshear said.

Thursday night, the Associated Press reported flash flooding and mudslides across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia and southern West Virginia, where thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain over the past few days.

With more rain expected in the area, the National Weather Service said additional flooding was possible into Friday in much of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia. Forecasters said the highest threat of flash flooding was expected to shift farther east into West Virginia.

This is a developing story and we will update this page as we learn more.

Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis
Photo by: Brandon Lewis