Everyone accounted for after widespread floods in Virginia


(NewsNation) — All previously unaccounted-for people have been found, and no deaths have been reported, after intense floods Tuesday night in Buchanan County, Virginia.

The number of people who couldn’t be found immediately after the severe weather was originally at 44.

Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Eric Breeding said at a Wednesday news conference that the reports of those unaccounted for had reflected family members struggling to get in touch with loved ones.

“We walk into it as a worst-case scenario. We plan for the worst, we hope for the best, and once again, that’s been the case,” Billy Chrimes, a search and rescue specialist with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said.

Authorities said only one injury was reported, and that was a snake bite. 

Around 100 to 150 residences have been flooded or washed away in the wake of the flood, which also toppled trees and caused some cars to float away. The Bristol, Virginia, Fire Department said Wednesday that the agency helped 30 people evacuate their homes.

“Me and my two-year-old son were on an air mattress on the floor and we were floating,” one Virginia woman said.

Seth Owens told the station he was among people who sought refuge at a post office and witnessed houses washing away.

“The next thing you know, the house is floating on down through there. … Two of the houses washed off,” he said.

As crews continued surveying damage, landslides and road conditions created obstacles, USA Today wrote.

Damaged vehicles rest under debris, Thursday, July 14, 2022 in Whitewood, Va., following a flash flood. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts from Tuesday’s floodwaters. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

Authorities began responding to reports of damage and rising water in the area Tuesday around midnight. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management was contacted to assist as the severity of the situation became more apparent overnight and through the morning.

Search-and-rescue operations in the Whitewood area of the county remain ongoing.

An emergency shelter and reunification center for those whose loved ones are missing was set up at a local elementary school.

“I am deeply saddened at the devastating news of flooding in Buchanan County. We are making every resource available to help those impacted,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said. “While rescue and recovery operations continue, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.”

Buchanan County also suffered serious flood damage last year, when the remnants of a hurricane hit the area in August, washing away homes and leaving one person dead. This week’s flooding was less severe but more widespread, authorities said.

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