At least 24 people are dead and the lives of hundreds more changed forever as heavy rain flooded west Virginia over the last two days. The floods have washed away houses completely and caused a slew of other damages that have led to injury and death. The exact death toll is still yet to come.
Over a 16 hour period severe thunderstorms poured up to 9 inches of rain into some areas of West Virginia devastating communities. Trees and power lines around the state are down, residents traumatized, communities in shambles.
One woman, Belinda Scott, is in the hospital with burns to 67 percent of her body after her house filled with water causes a gas leak that led to an explosion. She managed to break a vent and climb out on to a tree limb. Her husband, Ronnie Scott, told reporters “My wife was out there four and a half hours hanging in a tree with a house burning right beside her, flood waters running all around her.”
Perhaps the youngest victim of this flooding is a 4-year-old whose body was found after he fell into a creek that before the 9 inches of rain would have only come to his ankle. The boy had been outside with family who did attempt to rescue him before the water carried him away
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said that the floods have destroyed over 100 homes and knocked out power to tens of thousands more. Hundreds of people were stranded overnight at a shopping center and had to be rescued, more were rescued from the roads and rooftops.
“Roads destroyed, bridges out, homes burned down, washed off foundations,” he said. “Multiple sections of highway just missing. Pavement just peeled off like a banana. I’ve never seen anything like that.” Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill said
Stunned local residents talk of a house that caught fire and was burning as it floated down the stream, which runs through the town. The luxury resort and golf course Greenbrier is scheduled to host the PGA tour in just 2 weeks and the golf course is utterly flooded. The resort tweeted that due to “widespread damage” it would be closed until further notice.
Similar to the search and rescue efforts we’ve seen after Katrina and other such disasters, rescue crews are going door to door looking for people trapped inside. Once a house has been checked it is marked with a bright orange X.
Governor Tomlin called in the National Guard after declaring a state of emergency in 44 of the 54 local counties. 200 National Guard member have been deployed to assist the resident s of West Virginia, up to 300 more are authorized to help stabilize the state. FEMA has also said that they are sending help.
Want to help the residents of West Virginia? Go to http://www.volunteerwv.com