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'Long days, but that's okay'; Indiana Task Force works tirelessly to rescue Kentucky flood survivors

Task Force One, one of four FEMA teams trying to rescue survivors, cleared 500 structures on Saturday alone. They'll continue working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

HAZARD, Ky. — Nearly 60 members of Indiana Task Force One are in southeastern Kentucky on a search and rescue mission after massive flooding devastated that state.

As of Monday afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear says 37 people have died in Kentucky. The majority of those deaths are from Knott County, where four children died. Many more are missing.

Indiana Task Force One is one of four FEMA teams trying to find people and get them help.  

"It was like the perfect storm," said Jay Settergren of IN-TF1. "So very, very heavy rain that, in a short period of time, caused mudslides. We're seeing a lot of homes completely damaged. Gone. Off their foundations."

RELATED: Death toll rises to 37 following eastern Kentucky flooding

And, there's new concern in parts of southeast Kentucky, where flash flood warnings were issued on Sunday. Now, IN-TF1 is gearing up for more rain on the way. The team said it expects to see two more inches of rain on Monday. 

On Thursday, IN-TF1 deployed two 16-member mission-ready water teams and on Friday it activated and deployed 27 more members to join and support those teams. 

This puts a total of 59 task force members deployed in Kentucky. Among those are three canine handlers who are helping find survivors and are also able to detect human remains. 

It's intense work in dangerous conditions. The flooded environment the task force is working in includes a lot of debris, snakes, spiders and displaced animals.

"We're walking through all this stuff, so you're going through downed trees, debris from houses, cars, trucks, just everything you can imagine has been pushed through these little valleys," Settergren said.

The task force has been busy with long days, traveling between 2 and 2 1/2 hours every day from their base of operation to areas that need help. 

"It's just long days. but that's OK. We have great trained people who really want to help our neighbors to the south," said Settergren.

Task Force One cleared or checked more than 1,300 structures so far and assisted 54 people.

Here's a breakdown of the structures that TF-1 checked as of Monday:

  • 552 unaffected structures
  • 339 major affected structures 
  • 284 affected structures
  • 95 minor affected structures 
  • 33 destroyed structures

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