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article imageWest Virginia floods leave 14 people dead, says governor

By Karen Graham     Jun 24, 2016 in Environment
White Sulphur Springs - At least 14 people have lost their lives and 100 homes have been damaged or destroyed after powerful storms swamped West Virginia Thursday night, prompting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to declare a state of emergency in 44 counties.
UPDATE: It has just been announced (at 5:09 p.m.) that the death toll from the flooding in West Virginia has risen to 18 people.
The deluge that hit West Virginia dropped as much as nine inches of rainfall in an area on the State's border with Virginia while other parts of the state had 3 to 5 inches. Power was knocked out to tens of thousands of homes and businesses through Friday afternoon, reports CTV News.
There is still the chance of more rain and the threat from overflowing rivers, said the governor, adding that search and rescue efforts are the main priority right now, helping people trapped in flooded-out homes and cars. Two hundred National Guard troops have been deployed in eight counties, with another 300 more Guardsmen ready to assist as needed.
About 500 people were stranded at a shopping mall last night after a bridge washed out, and dozens of people had to be plucked off their rooftops as the swiftly rising waters cut off escape routes. The governor said, "It's been a long 24 hours and the next 24 hours may not be much easier."
The National Weather Service is calling the unprecedented rainfall a "one-in-a-thousand-year event." NBC News is reporting that Governor Tomblin, at a press conference today pleaded with residents, "Please continue to work together and support each other as West Virginians always do," when he announced the growing death toll and the loss of 100 homes.
The deaths included an eight-year-old boy and a four-year-old boy who were swept away by rushing waters in different counties on Thursday. Kanawha County is reporting three deaths, and Ohio County in West Virginia's northern panhandle is reporting another death. Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill announced Friday afternoon that two males were also found dead, and called the situation "complete chaos."
One rather dramatic scene occurred in White Sulphur Springs, where over 10 inches of rain fell in about six hours. A burning house was captured on video being swept along Howard Creek by the raging waters. "We surely need your prayers because there's a lot of people hurting right now," added Jim Justice, owner of the luxury Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, told The Weather Channel.
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