STORM pummels Kentucky, Tennessee; 10 missing, one dead in flooding that damages homes, roads

Sunday, August 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A storm swamped parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, causing flash floods that damaged roads and houses and trapped people in their homes and cars. One person was killed and 10 were missing, authorities said Saturday.

More than 4 inches of rain fell Friday night on the rugged hills northwest of Pikeville, the National Weather Service said. Water had started receding Saturday and rescue squads were trying to reach areas where witnesses reported seeing vehicles stalled by rising water.

Water had affected as many as 200 homes in Floyd County, said Patrick Conley, a spokesman with the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. Four shelters had been set up in the area to house evacuees.

Leslie Howell Jr., 31, died when his four-wheel all-terrain vehicle stalled and turned over, and he was swept down Hurricane Creek in Boldman, about seven miles north of Pikeville, said state police Sgt. Steven Slone. A woman was believed to have been washed away when she was stranded in her car Friday.

Early Saturday, state police had said the woman called her husband on her cell phone and told him she was struggling to hold a tree, and that the line then went dead. State police later said the woman had not made the call, and that the call to the woman's husband had been placed by a relative who escaped the flooding.

Nine people were missing after Tennessee flooding that forced the evacuation of about 40 homes, officials said. People scrambled to the tops of trees and houses to escape the rising waters, and rescue crews spent the afternoon patrolling in boats and helicopters looking for stranded people.

Three hikers and five campers in Greene County had not been found by Saturday evening, said Bill Brown, director of the Greeneville-Greene County Emergency Management Agency. A ninth person also was missing in the county.

Three homes were washed away by floodwaters, said Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Kurt Pickering. Weather service officials believed the worst flooding was over by late afternoon.

The flooding also knocked out electricity and closed about two dozen roads.

``Some were closed because of high water,'' said Sgt. Edward Yokley of Tennessee's Greene County Sheriff's Department. ``Others were washed away. We have a couple of bridges that are completely gone.''

At least 600 households and businesses were without power early Saturday evening, said Robert Sayne of Greene County Emergency Medical Services.

Floods this summer in nearby southern West Virginia destroyed some 1,500 homes and killed three people.