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Missing Eastern Kentucky woman's family comforted by item found near loved one after flood

sayer keeping the faith breathitt county
Posted at 10:51 AM, Aug 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-13 11:15:26-04

BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Faith holds a special place in the family of 29-year-old Nancy Cundiff. One of the two people still unaccounted for after the Eastern Kentucky floods.

“It can get people through the toughest of times, like right now,” said Nancy’s sister Melinda.

Her family is relying on that faith as they cling on to hope that Nancy will be found alive, even more than two weeks since the flood.

When the water started rising, Nancy and Melinda were inside their Breathitt County home along highway 476 with their mother, Ruby, and father Larry. It lifted their home with them all inside and started to wash it down Troublesome Creek as the water rose inside.

“The water came rushing in, and that's the last time I saw my mom or Nancy,” Melinda said.

Only father Larry was able to make it onto the roof. Melinda was in the water, unable to pull herself onto the roof. She was holding on with all her energy for more than an hour as they floated down the creek.

“I got dragged under multiple times by debris and stuff, and I thought that was it for me.”

She credits the will to survive and God for giving her the strength to keep fighting.

Eventually, Melinda was able to swim to dry land. The home breaking apart, her father held on to a tree. A neighbor used a unicorn pool floaty to rescue him, Melinda said.

“I thank God for those people, and the people helping everyone else,” she said.

Larry would spend days in the hospital. His wife's body was found by a family search team in a tree a few miles down the creek from where their home stood.

“We know she's not hurting no more, she's looking out for us, she always will be,” Melinda Cundiff said.

The focus has turned to finding Nancy. The family believes she is still alive. One family member saw her in one of the rescue boats, Melinda's Aunt Mary Lou Cundiff said.

She thinks Nancy is in a shelter, believing the reason she hasn't been found yet is that she is developmentally delayed.

“She may not be able to communicate even as much as her name from the trauma she has been through," Mary Lou Cundiff said.

At one point, hundreds were feared missing - the official number is now down to two, including Nancy.

"We haven't given up, and we won't give up, because in times like this you can't give up on the ones that you love, you can't," Melinda Cundiff said.

Last week, family members again searched the spot where Ruby's body was found. What they found wasn't Nancy, instead in a nearby tree they found a bible, open to Numbers 16:9.

The Bible is now sitting at Mary Lou's home. She read aloud from it. “Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord.”

The words have been a comfort to Melinda, who figures it was a sign from God.

“It’s like he was telling us I got her, you don’t have to worry," Melinda said. “At least we know that she doesn't have to suffer anymore and that she’s ok."