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Catastrophic flooding kills nearly two dozen in West Virginia

By By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
June 29, 2016, 4:29:33 AM EDT

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Nearly two dozen people died in West Virginia as a result of extreme flooding that inundated portions of the state on Thursday and Friday.

On Monday, officials announced that the death toll had been lowered to 23 after two people who were presumed dead were found alive.

A total of 32,170 homes and businesses remained without power, according to the report.

"The amount of rain that recently fell on parts of West Virginia and southern Virginia exceeded a once-in-a-century event for the specific area and resulted in catastrophic flooding in some communities," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"Radar estimates indicated 6 to 10 inches of rain fell on some locations in 24 hours," he said.

Extensive damage was reported and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for 44 counties, including all but the northern and eastern panhandles. He also authorized the deployment of up to 150 members of the state’s National Guard.

“The flooding we experienced Thursday and into [Friday] is among the worst in a century for some parts of the state,” Tomblin said.

Fifty homes were destroyed along Jordan Creek in the Clendenin area and multiple water rescues were performed in Richwood.

Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described “complete chaos” and told the AP that roads were destroyed, bridges were washed out and homes had been knocked off foundations.


In White Sulphur Springs, the raging floodwaters submerged part of the historic Greenbrier resort. According to a posting on the Greenbrier Facebook page, the resort will be closed until further notice. The PGA canceled the Greenbrier Classic that was to be held at the resort in early July.

“It’s like nothing I’ve seen,” Jim Justice, owner and CEO of the Greenbrier, said.

Due to road damage, hundreds of people were stranded near the Elkview Crossing Plaza, in the town of Elkview. According to WSAZ, the people were finally able to go home on Friday evening after a temporary roadway was quickly constructed.

FEMA announced that it deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to help provide support and guidance on the Federal Disaster Declaration Process. The organization will also help with damage assessments in Clay, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Webster and other counties.

Several rivers, including the Meadow River at Hines and the Greenbrier River at Hilldale crested to major flood stage on Friday afternoon. Record flooding occurred along the Elk River.

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Downpours to return to flood-ravaged West Virginia on Monday
BLOG: Extreme flooding in West Virginia

Though dry conditions over the weekend allowed for cleanup efforts to continue, more rain may return to the region early this week.

“A couple of showers and drenching thunderstorms will return on Monday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "While the extreme rainfall from Thursday will not be repeated, any downpours could renew areas of flooding along small streams and in low-lying areas."







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