Death Toll Rises To 26 In West Virginia Flooding
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin updated the media yesterday in a press conference. He said “a huge cell blanketed nearly the entire state of West Virginia yesterday (Thursday).” This resulted in devastating flooding and significant loss of life. The last report from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office indicated that 26 people lost their lives.
“I just recently got back from the National Guard Joint Operations Center where I was fully briefed on their response and learned more about the devastation,” Governor Tomblin said.
He described the rescue efforts. “Our first responders and local emergency management officials have been working around the clock,” he said. Hundreds of National Guard troops were called out to aid in the cleanup. He said power companies were working hard to restore power. Crews were working on clearing trees and reopening roads.
Governor Tomblin said he planned to get a firsthand look at the devastation on Friday from the air, but was unable to do so because all state aircraft were being used for rescue missions.
Buildings and critical infrastructure were also damaged in the storm. He said “early reports indicate that more than 100 homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed.”
Congressman Evan Jenkins also updated the press after speaking with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) officials. He said at least three rivers rose to historic levels during the disaster. Jenkins said the Elk River at Queen Shoals crested at 32 feet, which was its highest level since 1888.
Officials are doing everything they can to rescue those who are still trapped and to clean up from the devastation. “Our focus remains on search and rescue,” Governor Tomblin said.
(Photo Courtesy of Office of the Governor)