West Virginia – A powerful storm brought a 9-inch flood in several parts of West Virginia, Thursday night. Twenty people at West Virginia have been killed by this natural disaster, including two children. The hardest hit counties are Greenbrier, Nicholas, Fayette, Kanawha, and Webster. More than 100 homes have been damaged.

The overflowing rivers are still a concern on Friday. People are still trapped in their homes and cars, and rescue efforts continue to be a priority.

In this photo released by the The Weather Channel, the water levels appear to reach not so far from the houses' roofs. Image Credit: WDBJ7
In this photo released by The Weather Channel, the water levels appear to reach not so far from the houses’ roofs. Image Credit: WDBJ7

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the search and rescue were a top priority. He added that a total of 200 National Guard members had been deployed in 8 counties to continue to help citizens affected by the storm. Dozens of people have been saved from their rooftops as water levels increased. NBC News reports.

After 6 to 8 hours of heavy rain, 500 people were trapped at a shopping center when a bridge was covered by the flood.

During a news conference on Friday, Tomblin said 17 shelters were available for the victims, health and welfare are part of the aid to the affected. He declared a state of emergency in 44 of the 54 counties and authorized more than 500 soldiers to join the rescue efforts. He added that 14 people had died due to the event.

Fox 6 News says that Gov. Tomblin’s communications director, Chris Stadelman, stated this flood is the worst seen in 100 years. The National Weather Service said the storm was an event to be seen once in a thousand years.

Emergency officials said that on Thursday night, more than 40 counties were under a state of urgency because of the flood waters. The most affected counties are the ones in the southern part of the state. The state Department of Emergency Management told residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

At the beginning of the storm, 500 thousand customers reported being without power. By Friday afternoon, 66 thousand homes and business are still without power.

Natural gas service was suspended in White Sulphur Springs as a precaution.

Two boys among West Virginia flood victims

In Jackson County, a four-year-old boy, identified by NBC News as Edward McMillion, fell into a creek that usually ran about an ankle deep. After the rains, the water rose about 6 feet deep and took the children’s life.

Another boy fell into a creek. A church pastor declared that an 8-year old boy that was walking with his mother and sister near the Big Wheeling Creek when Emanual Williams slipped, Fox 4 News says.

At least four victims died in Kanawha County, including an elderly man, and another one died in Ohio County. At Greenbrier County two males were found dead and an older man. WSAZ reported.

According to NWS, the devastating storm was caused by weather, causing at least eight confirmed tornadoes in Ohio and Northern Illinois on Wednesday.

Source: NBC News