Day 2: Death toll rises to 18 in Albert Pike flood

    9:53 PM, Jun 12, 2010   |    comments
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    We've learned through Facebook she was married with a three-year-old child, Kaden. The Associated Press reports her husband survived, but there's no word on her son.  One of the last posts on her Facebook page reads, "So ready to go camping this weekend.  Kaden is going to love it!!" 

    Eight of the identified victims are from Louisiana and six from Texas. Six children are among the dead; they range in age from two to seven. The oldest victim recovered so far was 69.

    Saturday search crews combed about 20 miles on either side of the river. They discovered two bodies; a mother and her baby. There was no live rescue all day, but no one is giving up hope.

    Graig Cowart with Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church says, "We're approaching close to 48 hours. The shock has kind of worn off; now it's anxiety. They really want to find people soon because they know someone needs to be rescued if we can."

    As rescuers take to the rugged terrain in search of dozens of missing campers, Graig Cowart and more than 10 other pastors have volunteered to counsel survivors and relatives holding out hope.

    At times, the heartache can even take a toll on the chaplains. Pastor Cowart explains, "There were two families who vacationed together. The women lost their husbands; both had two boys and all four of the boys drowned. The eight-year-old daughter is still missing, so it's unbelievable how to even begin to understand this tragic loss."

    The stories are endless; those with happy endings are all the more reason for rescue efforts to continue. Terry Whatley crossed rushing water up to his neck to rescue his mom. He lost three friends.

    Whatley recalls, "The current started to carry her [his mom] underneath the car and I was thinking to myself, 'If she goes, I go,' because I wasn't going to let go of her."

    More than 80 campers have been rescued since Friday. Saturday the death toll rose to 18.  All have been identified; one third are children and the majority of the victims are from out of state.

    Brigette Williams with the American Red Cross says, "It also adds to the stress because then you have the distance to get to your loved one because you won't rest until you physically see they're alright."

    Victims have found shelter at Pastor Cowart's church; some have been turned away from helping with rescue efforts.

    Williams explains, "At this point after the flood it is a dangerous situation, so you really ant this left to the professionals."

    The pain, devastation and loss of life are felt by everyone in this small community. "I have all three of my kids and my wife to hug me tonight and a lot of these people, their family is gone. We're just here to minister to them so they can get some closure."

    According to the National Weather Service, the previous flood record in Langley was about 10 feet, half of what it was Friday. There are still at least 23 people missing, that is all age groups. Shelter and search crews will be in the area as long as it takes.

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