In a state already drenched with floods, West Virginia is suffering from widespread damage that is devastating. At least 14 people have died from the floods, according to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
According to WDTV, homes have been damaged and vehicles have been seen floating down neighborhood streets. But the governor set his focus on search and rescue. Up to 10 inches of rain has fallen in most counties since this morning, according to the National Weather Service.
“Our focus remains on search and rescue,” Gov. Tomblin said. “It’s been a long 24 hours and the next 24 hours may not be much easier.”
As the West Virginia floods reached homes, Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described “complete chaos” in his county, which appeared to be the hardest hit. Cahill told the Associated Press that roads have been destroyed, bridges are out, and many of the homes have washed off their foundations.
“Multiple sections of highway just missing. Pavement just peeled off like a banana. I’ve never seen anything like that,” Cahill added.
In the southern part of West Virginia, a 4-year-old boy was swept away in flood waters in Jackson County after much of the region had been issued a flash food warning due to heavy rain, according to county officials. A search and rescue team is still looking for the child with three local fire departments, as well as other law enforcement agencies.
The major storms prompted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare a state of emergency in 44 counties. The storms left approximately 40,000 customers without power, according to FirstEnergy and Appalachian Power outage reports.
Joe Coughlin of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said some first responders there are picking people up at their homes by boat and bringing them to shelters.
Some are too isolated to reach because roads are flooded and there’s no way to get boats on the water. Some homes have been washed off their foundation and people are stuck in cars trapped in the water, Coughlin said.
West Virginia roads are filled with downed trees and power poles, high water, accidents and other storm-related problems. Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker says the Transportation Management Center reported high-water issues statewide and hundreds of downed trees and some power poles across the state. Accidents were reported due to hydroplaning, and there were intermittent traffic signal outages.
Area residents were also dealing with more than just the floods after the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado, which has wind speeds of up to 110 mph, hit Nicholas County. The twister touched down three miles northeast of Richwood and ended in Greenbrier County, damaging mostly trees and power poles.