June 7, 2023

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Torrential flooding in Virginia leaves more than 40 missing

Search efforts for more than 40 unreported people in a rural Virginia county continue Thursday, after Torrential rains will flood the area and level homes from their foundations, as well as damaging roads and bridges throughout the region.

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Buchanan County in western Virginia dumped more than 6 inches of rain in a matter of hours on Wednesday, causing extensive damage, according to CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford.

“Added to the fact that it’s a mountainous area, rain can build up quickly and dangerous runoff has been unleashed,” Shackelford said.

Subsequently, the authorities reported that they were looking for at least 44 people of whom they had no news.

“This number reflects the number of people who have been reported to authorities by loved ones and family members who were unable to be reached,” the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “This does not mean the person is missing, it means we are trying to reach out and locate the person and verify their status.”

Flooding in a remote part of southwestern Virginia.

To help with flood recovery efforts, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency.

The storm was part of several systems that affected the county and the surrounding region, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, on Tuesday night.

“You see the house is drifting”

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Buchanan County around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. About two hours later, local officials began reporting widespread flooding and road closures.

“We were sitting in this post office here, and next thing you see the house is floating adrift. We thought it was going to wash it away. Two of the houses washed away,” resident Seth Owens told the CNN affiliate. WCYB.

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Dominick Fragoso, who lives in Whitewood, said the water was up to his knees.

“One of our neighbors’ driveways completely collapsed, and it fell down the mountain and fell down the creek,” Fragoso told WCYB.

The storm system also hit the Greenbrier Campground in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where more than 400 people had to be evacuated on Wednesday, after more than 8 inches of rain fell, according to Perrin Anderson. , assistant mayor for government affairs in Sevier County

“Debris and vehicles were washed downstream in the middle of the Little Pigeon River from the camp,” Anderson said

. in the Buchanan County community of Whitewood on Wednesday.

The balance of flooding in Virginia

More than 100 homes were damaged in southwestern Virginia, according to Billy Chrimes, a search and rescue specialist with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

“It will take a while to restore access so we can get in,” Chrimes explained.

  • Everything you need to know to prepare for a natural disaster

He also noted that landslides blocked many roads and that the storm washed away several bridge approaches.

“In the face of devastation, I want Virginians in Buchanan County to know that we are making every resource available to help those affected by this storm,” Youngkin said in a statement. “As the rescue and recovery continues, please pray with me as we stand with our fellow Virginians affected by this tragedy.”