About 44 people were unaccounted for Wednesday in the wake of severe weather and flooding across Buchanan County, in the far western part of Virginia, authorities said Wednesday.
“This number reflects the number of people that has been reported to law enforcement by loved ones and family members as being unable to make contact with them,” the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening. “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 added there were no confirmed deaths at the time.
A series of storms trained and partially stalled over the county and the wider region of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia late Tuesday – dropping between four to six inches of water in just a matter of hours, according to estimates from the National Weather Service radar.
The service first issued a flash flood warning for the county shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, warning that flash flooding was “ongoing or expected to begin shortly.” By just after 10:30 p.m., local law enforcement was reporting widespread flooding and road closures in the area.
Governor declares state of emergency
A shelter has been set up at the Twin Valley Elementary School in Oakwood for residents displaced by the flooding and the Red Cross is also responding to assist in efforts, Chief Deputy Eric Breeding said in a news conference posted on CNN affiliate WVVA’s Facebook page.
More than 100 homes were impacted, many roads were blocked by landslides and approaches to bridges had been washed out Wednesday, according to Billy Chrimes, with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
“It’s gonna take time for the access to be restored so we can get in,” Chrimes said.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to help with response and recovery efforts, saying the heavy rain caused flash flooding as well as power outages and other impacts to roads and infrastructure.
“In the wake of the devastation, I want Virginians in Buchanan County to know that we are making every resource available to help those impacted by this storm,” the governor said in a statement. “While rescue and recovery continues, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.”
There were no significant river rises into flood stage in the area detectable on National Weather Service river gauges in the county, nor any surrounding it.
A boil water notice was issued for the Whitewood and Clifton Fork communities, officials said. The notice was to remain in effect for now, the Buchanan County Public Service Authority said Wednesday.