After a non-stopping rain, people in West Virginia woke up today to the worst flooding the state has seen in the last 100 years. Some areas are more vulnerable than others, and governmental forces have joined efforts with the community to save as many people as possible.

West Virginia was by far the most affected area. At 10:45 a.m., rescuers from the Ravenswood Fire Department found the dead body of a missing child. He was last seen in Jackson County yesterday when the waters swept him away. So far, the authorities have reported 14 deaths, but since the squads are still looking for missing people that number could rise. The Governor of West Virginia Earl Ray Tomblin said all the departments across the state were working tirelessly to help the community. In his report, he added that at least 100 homes were severely damaged or totally lost to the water. The rescue teams have uploaded pictures of 3 story houses practically under mud and water.

After a non-stopping rain, people in Virginia woke up today to the worst flooding the state has seen in the last 100 years. Photo credit: Stephanie Klein-Davis / The Roanoke Times
After a non-stopping rain, people in West Virginia woke up today to the worst flooding the state has seen in the last 100 years. Photo credit: Stephanie Klein-Davis / The Roanoke Times

Hundreds of people had to spend the night at the West Virginia Mall after the bridge that connects the facility to the mainland collapsed. The river quickly rose in the afternoon washing away the construction. Accordingly, teams of rescue and salvage launched an operation to get these people out of there as soon as they could.

Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Thursday night

In a similar manner, around 500 people were trapped at the Crossing Mall in Elkview. The speed and volume of water made transit impossible, and the people decided to use the building as a temporary shelter. The authorities from the Kanawha County were forced to wait for the morning to launch a rescue mission. They managed to reach the mall in the morning, and eventually facilitated an improvised road to get them out of there, but some people had lost their homes during the rains, so they chose to stay until the situation was under control.

In the Allegheny County soldiers from the state’s, National Guard joined the pile on the rescue efforts this morning. The forces who were stationed at the Staunton base dispatched their 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Since they have specialized heavy tactics equipment, they proved themselves quite useful in search and rescue missions. Armed with Humvees and large trucks that can resist harsh conditions, they started answering emergency calls. In fact, they made available a direct line with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management so that they could act as soon as possible.

“If you need assistance because of the severe weather, please call 911 or your local dispatcher and let them know you need help and do not contact the Virginia National Guard directly,” said Brigadier General Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard. “They will determine what emergency services are best suited to assist you, and they will contact us if it appropriate for us to take action.”

In some areas, there are toxic risks due to oil

Amanda’s Redi-Mix is a concrete company based in Covington, and they were heavily affected by the natural disaster. The water irrupted in the company’s facilities where they stored many things including machinery, electric parts and more. The problem is, the company usually stores used oil in big barrels, and the water washed them away eventually leaking the content into the water. The Roanoke Fire Department and the Salem Fire Department are working very hard to contain the biological risks in the area. The owners of the company were heartbroken when they saw how much damaged their property had sustained.

In the Alleghany County, the authorities are working hard on cleaning up operations. So far, the official sources have not reported fatal victims. However, a lot of houses suffered a lot of damaged, and there are entire neighborhoods where the water covers the cars up to the windshield. People have been seen using canoes to take a look at their homes. The authorities say that this is by far, the worst flooding they have seen in decades. The cleaning and recovery efforts are expected to last for days or even weeks.

Flood preparedness plans reduced the catastrophe’s impact

According to the Roanoke Fire Department, floods are the second most common natural risks after wildfires in the United States. That is why there are several programs in place that are activated when the waters get out of control. This kind of things is especially common after the spring rains, at the beginning of the summer. Based on the area, there are several lists of the most dangerous creeks around the country. The communities around these places are used to this kind of events which allows them to take quick action and prevent massive live loss. However, there is not much they can do to keep their properties safe, and the government understands this. That is why insurance companies have added flooding damages to their list of services.

This is the first time in more than ten years that water causes so much damage. After making their way in, people will gather in the residential areas to pray for those who lost their life in this tragic event that has been compared to the flooding of 1985 which is the worst in the state’s historical record.

Source: CNN