ARLINGTON, Va. – The Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia National Guard deployed aircraft and troops to Eastern Kentucky to help search for and rescue victims of the severe flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall.
Two Kentucky National Guard medevac crews from DET 1 C/2-238th AVN - Wildcat DUSTOFF left Frankfort July 28 to assist with rescue efforts. The Tennessee National Guard sent five Black Hawk helicopters and crews for search and rescue and medical evacuation of flood victims. And the West Virginia National Guard contributed two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, two UH-72 Lakota aircraft with hoist capability and 14 Soldiers to support the Kentucky National Guard.
The flooding has killed at least 15 people, with more still missing.
“Due to heavy rainfall and flooding in Eastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Guard has launched multiple aircraft to provide support for hoist and rescue operations,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Martin, Army Aviation Support Facility commander.
Kentucky Air National Guard aviators who were closer to the flooded area also responded.
At the direction of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, the West Virginia National Guard sent aircraft and crew members from Company C, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion (MEDEVAC) and Company B, 1-224th Security and Support Aviation Battalion in Williamstown, West Virginia. They flew more than 25 hours July 28, rescuing over a dozen people and three pets from southeastern Kentucky.
“The mission of the National Guard is to be ready at a moment’s notice to help our citizens in need, and right now, our neighbors in Kentucky need our help,” said Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee adjutant general, said five Blackhawk helicopters from the Tennessee Army National Guard were supporting state, county and local emergency responders assisting Kentucky citizens affected by flash flooding.
Gov. Bill Lee authorized Tennessee Guardsmen to provide critical air-rescue support in eastern Kentucky in coordination with the Tennessee and Kentucky Emergency Management Agencies. Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, states can request relief and recovery support from other states during and after disasters.
Two UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters from Nashville’s 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion deployed to Jackson, Kentucky, to assist with rescue operations. One helicopter is from the Tennessee National Guard’s Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team with rescue divers from the Nashville Fire Department. The second rescue helicopter is working with the Nashville Fire Department’s swift water rescue team.
Three medical evacuation Black Hawk helicopters from Task Force MEDEVAC, stationed in Louisville, Tennessee, were also activated to assist with rescues. Each aircraft is equipped with an emergency hoist system, water rescue baskets, exposure suits and swift water-trained medics and aircrew.
Contributing: Maj. Holli Nelson, West Virginia National Guard, and Kentucky National Guard Sgt. Jesse Elbouab, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment; the Tennessee National Guard.