HAZARD, Ky.--Entire houses have been washed away in the flooding in eastern Kentucky. Since late last week Indiana’s Task Force 1 has been in the mountains, about 20 miles from Hazard, to help with search and rescue operations, needed because people have been reported missing.
“That is factual. Homes were washed away and we are now searching that debris, clearing those to make sure there’s nobody in them,” said Indianapolis Fire Battalion Chief Jay Settergren, Task Force team leader.
He said that news reports you’ve read or heard about the enormity of the flooding are not exaggerated.
LISTEN: Jay Settergren talks 100-year flooding and rescue in Kentucky
“I have spoken to many residents who have lived here life-long and all of them have stated that they’ve never seen this kind of flooding,”: said Settergren. “So, you’re talking definitely over a hundred years of history that this kind of blew out of the water.”
That makes the need for groups like Indiana’s Task Force 1 vital. There are only 28 teams in the U.S. like it, and the teams are specially trained.
“Obviously we are search and rescue. That’s our primary and currently being four or five days later now we are in the if you will, recovery, search wide area mode,” he said.
Steergren said when they first arrived, they were doing what he called “hasty searches”. meaning they were searching structures quickly, looking for people who needed to be rescued.
“We’re more in the area where we’re coming back and doing primary and secondary, which are slower, more focused searches of these structures to make sure that we do clear them of any chance that somebody may still be in them,” he said. “There are a number of missing folks in different counties andf so we’re just trying to help them be located.”
Settergren said he anticipates it will be several days, or perhaps through the end of the week before the team is able to complete all of its searches.
He said the team is in demand in situations like the flooding in Kentucky because of some of their specialized skills.
“They’re highly trained in technical rescue. We have trauma dogs. We have hazmat specialists. We have K-9 search specialists that are the best of the best.”