(Information from KSP & APPCV reporter Ron Hamblin)
Haddix, KY – January 7th, 2023
Personnel from multiple Kentucky Emergency Management regions participated in a multi-state, joint agency search for Vanessa Baker, the sole missing person from the devastating floods in Eastern Kentucky, in late July 2022.
Saturday’s operations brought together over 160 searchers, covering 1067 acres along the North Fork Kentucky River in Breathitt County. Campbell County KY Office of Emergency Management provided the Campbell County LandSAR’s Mobile Command Post where operations and communication flowed from during the search. Over 170 man-hours from KYEM personnel have been dedicated to this operation since late August from Campbell County alone. This does not include the hours of dedicated from state level coordination and additional county efforts in the region.
KYEM has coordinated efforts with KYTC for aerial drone footage and worked with multiple canine search teams and underwater drone searches, for example. It was an honor to patriciate in this search alongside so many dedicated individuals who carry the same perseverance to bring Vanessa Baker home to her family as we do.
The following agencies participated in the search:
Breathitt Co. EMA
Kentucky State Police
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
Ky Emergency Management
Cincinnati Police K-9 unit
Campbell County EMA
Scott Co. FD
Jackson Co Search and Rescue
Rockcastle County FD
Laurel County EMA
Redstar EMS/Powell Co EMS
Morgan County SAR
Ky Search Dog Assoc.
Total search members 165 Total of 12 miles searched from River Caney area to Haddix Community.
The search was broken down in to teams who searched quadrants. Each team had GPS trackers that mapped out every step they took in their search. This information was put into a computer to aide organizers with future searches in this case. The maps created help searchers keep from backtracking over areas already searched. According to Jim Cuppy, one of the search coordinators, of the 39 flood victims from the July 2022 flood, the bodies traveled an average of 4-8 miles. So far the search for Vanessa Baker has covered roughly 14 miles from where she is believed to have been swept away.
The search team has used several high tech mapping and equipment to help try to find Vanessa. The amount of area to be covered is incredible and the people involved are to be commended for giving their time to try to Vanessa Baker and give her family some closure.
Appalachian Citizens Voice will have more on this story as it develops.