BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Water rescues continued in eastern Kentucky Friday, as the death toll rose to 19.
For the second day in a row, crews from the Lexington Fire Department were on the scene in Lost Creek, Kentucky. At least 98 people have been rescued by emergency crews, and many others have been rescued by civilians who have used their own boats to reach people. The river and creek crested in the morning. 13 people were rescued in the area on Thursday.
It’s a small snapshot of the larger efforts taking place across eastern Kentucky.
In Lost Creek, the Breathitt County coroner was on hand as a body was brought to the shore. They were found on Road 476, coroner Hargis Epperson said. He didn’t release the name of the victim and said 9 people were still unaccounted for.
“I just feel terrible because of the loss of her,” said Allie Turner, who identified herself as a friend of the person who died. “You know, the way it happened, such a terrible tragedy.”
Turner waited for hours near the location where emergency crews from Lexington, Jessamine County, Richmond, and Ohio Task Force One, were all basing their small boat crews. Just before her friend’s body came to shore, she – and the family members of the person who died, all walked the other way, unable to bring themselves to stay.
“The last time we had a flood she stayed with me, and I figured someone else had got her the other night when we got such heavy rain,” Turner said.’
LEX 18 crews were there as the final person was rescued Friday before Lexington crews packed up for the evening. A large group of family had gathered, waiting for Price Neace to arrive.
“Best feeling in the world,” Neace said as he was joined by two of his granddaughters, who had finally been able to get in contact with his niece in the morning, after a day without any cell signals made contacting Neace impossible. Neace had evacuated his home near the creek to a neighbor’s hillside home. They had tried getting help through the KSP line but said they were too backed up – so they went to meet with rescue crews and gave them his name.
“When we heard from him it was an amazing feeling, we were definitely all heartbroken when we wasn’t hearing from him,” his granddaughter Ernestine Brewer said.
After a few hours, he was brought to shore. Some people refused to leave, firefighters said, determined to stay with their homes. While Brewer’s family was able to get her grandfather to safety, they weren’t sure if others in their family had made it out.
“We still don’t know who’s out who’s alive, were missing cousins right now, babies, we can’t find nobody,” Brewer said.
Rescue crews said they will be back out in their small boats on Saturday. They believe as more cell service returns, more people will call for help. They’re holding on to hope.