Emergency Declared in West Virginia Due to Severe Flooding

May 11, 2009

Heavy rains caused flash-flooding this past weekend in southern West Virginia, closing many highways, forcing residents from their homes and prompting Gov. Joe Manchin to declare a state of emergency.

Manchin’s declaration allows him to direct state resources to Boone, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming counties.

No injuries were reported, according to Homeland Security Operations Director Paul Howard.

“State and local emergency management officials are on site, assessing damages and offering assistance where needed,” Manchin said in a statement. Manchin planned to tour the flooded region Sunday, spokesman Matt Turner said.

Swift-water teams from area fire departments ferried stranded residents to safety before the water began to recede Saturday afternoon, Howard said. He had no figures on how many people were evacuated, and he said an estimate of the damage caused by the overnight deluge probably would not be available until Sunday.

More than two inches of rain fell in the already-saturated area in about 24 hours, causing flooding from runoff and overwhelming small streams, Howard said.

The hardest hit area was Mingo County. Robert Jelacic, a Homeland Security shift leader, said Saturday evening that an aerial survey of Mingo County determined that about 100 structures were destroyed, nearly 500 had major damage and more than 1,000 had minor damage. He said emergency personnel planned to deliver food and drinking water to the area Sunday.

McDowell and Wyoming counties also had significant flooding, but Jelacic said he had no figures on the number of structures destroyed or damaged there.

Howard said Manchin activated 30 National Guard troops to assist in the response.

Sections of many roads were washed out, under water or covered by mudslides. Jarrod Fletcher, emergency services director in Mingo County, told the Charleston Gazette that one Ned’s Branch man had to be rescued when a mudslide picked up his mobile home and pushed it down a mountain, trapping him inside.

Appalachian Power reported about 6,000 customers were still without service Saturday evening, down from about 10,000 earlier in the day.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.