Significant flooding in West Virginia, state of emergency declared

Significant flooding in West Virginia, state of emergency declared

Powerful storms that swept through parts of the US Midwest starting Wednesday, June 22, have now moved east over the Mid-Atlantic states and caused significant flash flooding in parts of West Virginia. Mudslides, rockslides, and flooding damaged homes, businesses, roads, and bridges. A State of Emergency was declared for 44 West Virginia counties.

The news comes just one day after a 'low-end' derecho formed and swept through parts of the Midwest and into Mid-Atlantic states, leaving a trail of damage and thousands without power all the way to Virginia.

Intense rainfall has proved very dangerous for parts of West Virginia on Thursday, June 23. 

According to the National Weather Service, the dam at Summit Lake in Greenbrier County was temporarily breached due to heavy amount of rain. People living in Richwood, Nicholas County, started leaving their homes. 

By the end of the day, at least two people have lost their lives. An eight-year-old boy died after he slipped into Big Wheeling Creek in Jackson County and was swept by raging water. In Kanawha County, an elderly man drowned in floodwaters.

Up to 254 mm (10 inches) of rain has fallen in Greenbrier County within 12 hours of June 23, while Richwood in Nicholas Country was expected to receive up to 152 mm (6 inches) of rain through 21:00 EDT.

Houses were washed away as severe flooding swept through the city of White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County. Residents shared videos showing them taking shelter on roofs as flood waters raged. The flooding also hit the famous Greenbrier golf resort.

The town of Clendenin in Kanawha County, along the Elk River, experienced its worst flooding in almost 20 years and can only be accessed by helicopter, meteorologist Bryan Huges reported.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a State of Emergency for 44 counties. This excludes the Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties.

Updates

Saturday, June 25, 2016
07:52 UTC (03:52 EDT):

The death toll in the West Virginia flooding has risen to 23.

According to West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato, as of 21:50 EDT on June 24 (01:50 UTC on June 25), 23 fatalities have been confirmed across flood-impacted areas in the state. "Additional details regarding ongoing response and rescue efforts will be provided Saturday morning," Gianato said.

On Friday afternoon (EDT), June 24, Gov. Earl Tomblin said more than 100 homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed by the flooding. "Electric companies are working to restore power, and the most current estimates show at least 66 000 people in the state without electricity. The focus remains on search-and-rescue efforts."

Natural gas has been shut off in some areas, and authorities are working to remove downed trees from the streets. 

“The flooding we experienced Thursday and into today [Friday] is among the worst in a century for some parts of the state,” Tomblin added. 

Featured image: Richwood, WV flooding June 23, 2016. Credit: Bryan Hughes

Comments

ron 4 years ago

The rains were intense, no doubt and a lot of rain fell in a very short time but much of the carnage also had to do with mountaintop mining and the deforestation it caused. The rain was not absorbed into the Earth or the forests because they were gone. No one wants to believe in Climate Change, then please explain why our "Natural" disasters are getting worse and worse and worse every year? More flooding, more drought, more intense storms. Science is real folks.

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