Historic Flood Ravage West Virginia, 20 Dead and Counting
Friday, the West Virginia Governor’s communication director, said some areas were “probably looking at flooding that’s going to be the worst in 100 years.” Tens of thousands of people were without power, and several roads are impassable, hundreds of houses have washed away.
At least 20 people, including an 8-year-old boy who was wading in a foot of water, died in massive floods in West Virginia from a storm system that has dumped an historic amount of rain in parts of the state, state officials said Friday.
As much as 8-10 ins of rain fell in 6 to 8 hours in parts of West Virginia, the National Weather Service said. This amount of rain in such a short time is likely a “1-in-1000-year event,” the weather service said.
It was the 3rd-deadliest flood on record in West Virginia, according to the West Virginia state climatologist Kevin Law.
Only the Buffalo Creek flood in Y 1972, when 125 died after a dam break, and a November 1985 flood when 38 died from a combination of Hurricane Juan’s remnants and another storm killed more in the state, Mr. Law said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told reporters Friday that damage is widespread and devastating. Saying search and rescue missions are still a top priority, Tomblin issued a State of Emergency for 44 counties and deployed 150 members of the National Guard to help emergency responders.
The flooding was “among the worst in a Century” for some parts of West Virginia, the Governor as said.
Gov. Tomblin’s Chief of Staff, Chris Stadelman, said 14 deaths had been confirmed by the state medical examiner. But local sheriffs and rescue workers across the state confirmed others not yet included in the state’s official tally.
The heavy rains and rising water swamped towns, inundated a 200 year old resort and trapped 500 people in a shopping center when a bridge was washed out.
The storm also knocked out power to 66,000 West Virginians, and forced the shut off of gas in the town of White Sulphur Springs, Gov. Tomblin said.
The Governor said 60 roads are closed, many of them destroyed, bridges were knocked out, and homes were burned down and washed off foundations. He said water rescue teams searched devastated areas looking for possible victims.
“It’s been a long 24 hours, and the next 24 hours may not be any easier,” the Governor said.
Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described “Complete Chaos” in his county from the flooding.