Ohio Task Force 1 enters third day of searches in tornado ravaged areas in Western Kentucky

DAWSON SPRINGS, Kentucky — Ohio Task Force 1 has entered its third day of rescue operations and searches in parts of Western Kentucky hard-hit by Friday’s tornado outbreak.

>>PHOTOS: OH-TF1 rescue operations continue in Western Kentucky

On Wednesday, the team continued its searches in Dawson Springs, which is about an hour northeast of Mayfield.

“(On Tuesday) the team conducted a full day of wide-area searches in the Dawson Springs area.   They also assisted Indiana Task Force 1 by tasking OH-TF1 canines and handlers to the Indiana team for part of the day,” said Phil Sinewe, spokesman for OH-TF1.

Search Team Manager Brian Petry also was assigned to a helicopter mission Tuesday to capture pictures of impacted areas that are hard to access. Petry then worked with local agencies to help determine routes into the isolated areas.

“The helicopter mission emphasizes the magnitude of damage in the area again.   Local authorities are still working on accessing parts of the community, highlighting the struggles this storm has created,” said Task Force Leader Jim O’Connor. “While there are multiple struggles, the entire team remains in high spirits because of the determination and positive attitudes of the Kentucky residents they interact with each day.”

After arriving in Kentucky Monday, the OH-TF1 teams spent the day searching in areas west of Mayfield and east of the city in the Dawson Springs area, Phil Sinewe OH-TF1 Public Information Officer said in a media update Tuesday morning.

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“To give a sense of magnitude, the two areas the team worked...are a 70-mile drive apart, all devastated by tornados,” Sinewe said.

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OH-TF1 has set up a base of operations east of Mayfield and is being housed in the dorms of a university in the area, Sinewe said. OH-TF1 is joined by three other FEMA search and rescue teams including teams from Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee.

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“The damage we are seeing along our entire route is significant and cannot be put into words,” O’Connor said.

“We are still in a rescue mode, looking for potential victims and assessing damage for the State of Kentucky as we move through our search area. The entire country should be proud of the work all the teams are doing here in Kentucky,” O’Connor said.

As of the latest updates Monday afternoon, 74 people in Kentucky were killed and 109 people are still unaccounted for.

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