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TN National Guard assists in Kentucky flood rescues

WSMV Nashville logo WSMV Nashville 8/2/2022 Danielle Jackson
TN National Guard helps rescue Kentucky flood victims © Provided by WSMV Nashville TN National Guard helps rescue Kentucky flood victims

SOUTHEASTERN KY - As the floodwaters swept through Southeastern KY last week, the Tennessee National Guardsmen were dispatched to the various flooded areas to conduct several rescue missions.

The death toll continues to rise. So far at least 37 people are dead, and hundreds are still missing.

Daniel Backus, a Chief Warrant 2 and Test Pilot with the TN National Guard, was one of the many sent out to help with rescue efforts.

“We saw six houses pushed together in a row and it’s unbelievable,” said Backus.

Backus and his team were sent out immediately to Hazard, Kentucky on a mission to find anyone they could come across in the air and on the ground.

As a pilot, Backus says it was difficult at times to find a safe landing area because of the rolling hills and mountains.

“We were looking for a place to land...It was really tight and really confined and there was a front yard that had a cable line shooting across it that if we could remove that somehow, we could land. And we relayed that to the personnel on the ground and within three minutes that line was down, and we picked up. My crew alone picked up 35 people out of that one front yard,” said Backus over Zoom.

The coordination between black hawks from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee was massive during one of their many missions--one in particular when they rescued seven people out of an attic. The TN Hart crew from Nashville assisted with that rescue too.

“We had one crew go down to rescue some elderly people and some neighbors there told them it was a family right across the street stuck in an attic seven people were stuck in an attic. I believe it was the Nashville team that sent their helicopter and aquatic rescue team out and punched a hole in the roof and got seven of them out,” said Backus.

Over four days, they rescued approximately 200 people, but it’s one rescue image that will stay with him forever.

“It really brings a tear to my eye. I think it was day two. I saw a group of kids coming to my helicopter and there’s a picture of my flight medic carrying these two babies that are the same age as my kids and it really touched me. And my family understands the sacrifices I make to help these other people and it really brings a sense of pride in what I do and what I’ve trained for. And I think we all feel that way,” said Backus.

Daniel says they were stationed at the hazard airport where local people showed up and gave the guardsmen food and drinks. He also mentioned how the local community stepped up and helped with locating areas like cow fields so the helicopter could land and transport people who needed medical care.

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