By air, by boat, and by foot, dozens of first responders are still scouring the bed and banks of the Llano River in the Junction area in a race to find any signs of life after four people were swept away in floodwaters on Monday morning.
Christy Powers, the City of Junction Public Information Officer, said there are 105 people from different government agencies searching. There are also both registered and unregistered volunteers. Officials are asking that anyone with information call 911 and that no more volunteers come out.
There is also a drone restriction for the public until further notice, Powers said.
Public Information Officer Logan Scherschel of the Texas A&M Forest Service said that there are 14 personnel and two dogs from Camp Mabry in Austin involved in the search.
There is one helicopter, at least one drone, and an additional K-9 team, with one dog from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“If landowners along the South Llano River find anything that may facilitate rescue efforts, please call the Kimble County Sheriff’s Department,” Incident Commander Randy McMullen said. “Search efforts are taking all tips seriously.”
Scherschel said that searchers would examine high priority targets first. Those targets would be large piles of debris that were spotted by aircraft that are so large that they could not be adequately searched by air.
After the main targets are searched, Scherschel said that they would move on to a grid search, methodically looking at areas starting at the RV park and working downstream.
The American Red Cross is providing canteen services to searchers at the incident command post in the heart of Junction. They are asking for volunteers to sign up online to train or to serve with basic duties related to feeding and housing first responders.
Although law enforcement officials have not identified the missing, the First Methodist Church of San Angelo confirmed that one of their church members is among the missing.
A prayer rally was held on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for Darin Hartman and his family.
Family members of the three other missing people have taken to social media to express their hopes and fears and to ask for prayers as the search continues.
Steve Turner said that his sister, Charlotte Moye, is among the missing. Turner said that Moye came to Texas with a relative to deliver a truck to another family member and to visit with relatives in the area. Turner noted that Moye was with a group of family and neighbors who had been living in the riverside RV park while working on a pipeline project in the area.
The other missing men have been identified by friends as Joey Huss and Mike McGee of Flomaton, Alabama.
Turner said that the three people are long-time friends, neighbors, or relatives.
Speaking about his sister’s drive to survive, Turner said she has medical issues that might be an issue but “Charlotte is a very strong-willed person.”
After learning that a relative survived after being swept downstream more than 20 miles, Turner said they believe the missing people may be alive and stranded on isolated ranch land.
“Our thinking is that if they could have went that far in a matter of a couple of hours, in that rushing water, floating, holding onto something, that these other four could do the same,” said Turner, who added that worrying that his sister could be hurt or trapped is a frightening thought. “We're just hoping and praying that they're just hanging on somewhere, just waiting for someone to come get them.”
Turner said that local first responders are doing an amazing job of both searching and communicating but they hope local residents will also be scouring the area looking for survivors.
“What we're asking is no one to get in harm's way, by no means, but if the local residents could help look on the river banks, if they could, if it's legal for them to do so without trespassing, we would appreciate any kind of help we can get,” Turner said.
Even though many relatives of the missing are in Alabama and Florida and weathering Hurricane Michael, they said they would come to Texas to aid in the search if they would be allowed access to private property.
“We're talking about manning up and coming out there if we are allowed to walk the river banks and search. If that's what we need to do, we're prepared and we're ready,” Turner said. “If we could bring four-wheelers and side-by-sides, we've got people that are offering them. It's just unreal.”
Turner said that he and the others are deeply appreciative of everything that is being done in the search and he asked for continued prayers.
To volunteer with the Red Cross, call the Hill Country Chapter at 830-257-4677 or sign up online here.
With regard to the continuing effort, Scherschel said assisting agencies include:
Junction Police Dept.
Texas Task Force 1
South Texas Regional Advisory Council DPS
Kimble County EMS
El Dorado VFD
Kimble County Sheriff Office
Texas Parks and Wildlife
Texas Division of Emergency Management
Texas A&M Forest Service