After a period of heavy rains on Thursday night dumped over nine inches in 24 hours throughout West Virginia, a federal disaster was declared by President Obama to combat the severe flooding that has occurred in its wake. As of Monday morning, at least 25 people have died in the flooding, with 17 of the deaths occurring in Greenbrier County (15 of which occurred in the town of Rainelle alone), six deaths in Kanawha County (which includes the state capital of Charleston), one in Jackson County, and one in Ohio County. The federal disaster declaration allows for federal funding assistance in Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas County; meanwhile, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a state of emergency for 44 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.

WV Flooded Road
A car drives down a flooded road in Bridgeport, WV as rain continues to fall (Flickr/Rpavich)

According to the National Weather Service, the significant rainfall in the area is considered a 1,000-year rainfall event. As a result, the Elkview River in Kanawha rose over 27 feet from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning, cresting at 33.37 feet – the highest crest for the river in recorded history. Over 30,000 residents were left without power, though that has since been reduced to 8,800 as of Monday morning. The flooding has submerged at least two substations and destroyed an access road, making certain repairs difficult for the local utilities. While estimates are still developing regarding the extent of the damage, emergency management officials have stated that over 500 homes have been severely damaged or destroyed in Roane County alone.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Video: Burning House Floats Down Howard’s Creek in White Sulphur Springs – Metro News
  2. President Declares Major Disaster for West Virginia – FEMA
  3. West Virginia Flooding Leaves at Least 23 Dead; More Storms Forecast – KTLA
  4. Cleanup Begins After Nearly 1 in 1,000 Year Flood Event Kills 23, Leaves Thousands Homeless in West Virginia – The Weather Channel
  5. Tomblin issues State of Emergency for 44 Counties – Metro News
  6. West Virginia Flooding Leaves at least 24 Dead – CNN
  7. Obama Declares Major Disaster In West Virginia After Historic Flooding – NPR