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Two Dead, at Least Six Missing in Kentucky as Heavy Storms Race East

Two people were dead and at least six others remained missing in Johnson County, Kentucky, after flash floods destroyed about 150 homes.
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Two people are dead and at least six others remain missing Tuesday in Johnson County, Kentucky, where flash floods destroyed about 150 homes and damaged several hundred others, state and local authorities said.

Kentucky State Police and Sheriff Dwayne Price said two bodies had been recovered after Monday night's severe storms in Johnson County, about 50 miles east of Lexington — a man who drowned in floodwaters in Flatgap after he got out of his car Monday night, and an elderly woman who was discovered Tuesday afternoon in debris near Volga.

State police said only that "at least" six other people were unaccounted for, cautioning that they couldn't give a precise number because downed telephone lines were snarling communications. But they said no children were believed to be among the missing.

Besides the approximately 150 homes that have been destroyed, about 500 more have been damaged, officials said. Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency.

Winds ripped a mobile home in half in Fleming County, northeast of Lexington, and threw it several feet Tuesday. Four members of the family who live there were treated for minor injuries, NBC station WLEX of Lexington reported.

Bryon Mitchell, a relative of the family members — who weren't identified — said that both of the home's garages were destroyed and that half of the home appeared to have been picked up and dropped in the front yard.

The storm moved out of the state about 10 p.m. ET, but forecasters said floodwaters would continue to rise for several more hours.

Heavy rain was continuing Tuesday in the Midwest and the Ohio Valley. For much of the day, a heavy thunderstorm with gusty winds threatened Tuesday night's baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati, which was under a flash flood watch until game time. But the rain tapered off in time for the annual gala.

In Bexley, Ohio, two homes were evacuated early Tuesday after lighting struck a tree, traveled through the ground, blew out four windows in one of the homes and burned a hole in a gas line, which began leaking, police told NBC station WCMH of Columbus. Columbia Gas was working Tuesday to replace the gas line.

Crews at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were racing to clean up debris after officials called the racetrack's worst storm in a quarter-century swept through Tuesday morning, just a week and a half before the Brickyard 400. High winds toppled a century-old tree and a tent near the track's hospital, and the track itself was flooded.

"It's a different cleanup, for sure, [from the usual] beer cans and Coke bottles throughout the facility," Douglas Boles, the racetrack's president, told NBC station WTHR.

"Trash cans have been toppled over, we have tents that are coming down, we have signage that is down. And then you have tree limbs all over the place," Boles said. "We're 10 days out from the Brickyard, so this is not exactly what we wanted. It's going to mean some extra hours so we're ready to go next week."

The severe weather, which is expected to move east to the Tennessee Valley and the East Coast, is the product of unstable air interacting with an unseasonably strong and active jet stream, said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

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Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and southeastern North Carolina could be especially hard hit Wednesday, she said, but severe thunderstorm watches already extended as far afield Tuesday as southern Missouri, northern Arkansas, western Pennsylvania, western Maryland and southeast Indiana.

The storms could drop "very large and damaging hail," more pockets of flash flooding and even a few tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.