Over 100 homes damaged, dozens reported missing after flooding in southwest Virginia, officials say



Officials in southwestern Virginia say dozens of people are unaccounted for and likely over 100 homes were damaged after heavy rains caused devastating flooding in rural Buchanan County.

First responders, including swift water rescue teams, from across southwest and central Virginia headed to the area as water levels rose overnight and early Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Charleston, West Virginia, had issued a flash flood warning lasting into early Wednesday for parts of West Virginia and Virginia and also warned of severe thunderstorms in the area.

Gov. Glenn Younkin declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to respond to the severe flooding.

No deaths have been reported as a result of the flooding, Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Eric Breeding said at a Wednesday news conference

Authorities were investigating reports of 44 people who were unaccounted for, the sheriff’s office said later Wednesday.

“This does not mean the person is missing, it means we are attempting to reach and locate the person and check on their wellbeing,” the sheriff’s office said in a post on social media.

Billy Chrimes, search and rescue specialist from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said the storm caused “significant flooding” and damage to a “well over 100” homes. Hundreds of households were also without power Wednesday in Buchanan County, according to poweroutage.us.

Crews continued to survey the damage Wednesday, Chrimes said, adding that landslides and road conditions were creating obstacles for the 18 search and rescue teams that responded to the flooding.

Several roads in the area were closed due to flooding, Breeding said, urging residents to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary. A family reunification center and emergency shelter was set up at a local elementary and middle school, he said.

“We ask that everyone please pray for this area,” Breeding said. “Please pray for those affected by this flooding.”

Youngkin said in a Twitter statement he was “deeply saddened” by the flooding in Buchanan County.

“We are making every resource available to help those impacted,” he said. “While rescue and recovery operations continue, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.”

The flooding comes less than a year after Buchanan County suffered serious flooding damage when the remnants of a hurricane hit the area in August 2021, washing away homes and leaving one person dead.

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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