Flash Flood Watch Issued for Some Hard-Hit Counties

Jul 3, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch on Independence Day in West Virginia. Some of the 21 counties under the watch experienced devastating flooding last month.

The weather service posted the watch from early Monday through early Tuesday, July 5. The watch area covers much of central and northern West Virginia.

The weather service said small streams and creeks would rise quickly if large amounts of rain fall in a few hours.

The worst of last month's floods were mostly in the southern part of the state. Three counties hit hard then and included in the latest watch are Clay, Nicholas and Roane. The two counties where most of the deaths occurred— Greenbrier and Kanawha — are not in the current watch area.

Friday, July 1, 2016:

West Virginia state officials began releasing numbers Friday that illustrate the damage of severe weather and flooding that killed 23 people.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says an estimated 1,500 homes were destroyed and an additional 4,000 homes suffered damage. They also say about 125 businesses have been destroyed.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation released Friday estimated road damage costs related to last week's weather and flooding. State roads officials say initial damage estimates across the state total more than $36 million. Of that, more than $24 million is expected to come to FEMA and the rest from the Federal Highways Administration.

Credit West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports 4,561 registrations from residents affected by the flood. As of midday Friday, more than $5.4 million of funding has been approved through the agency's Individuals and Housing Program. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016:

Federal aid from various agencies is pouring into West Virginia following last week's flooding that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. 

According to the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, more than 4,000 homeowners have registered for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As of midday Thursday, $3,175,915.74 in funding has been approved for FEMA's Individuals and Households Program. Of that, $2,433,230.10 is directed to housing assistance and $742,6856.64 has been allocated for other needs assistance.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday in a news release the availability of $5.7 million in emergency relief fund from the Federal Highway Administration to help repair roads damaged by heavy rain and flooding in the state.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016:

Governor Tomblin announced Wednesday that the Federal Disaster Declaration has been extended to Pocahontas and Webster counties. That announcement brings the total number of counties declared a disaster to 10, as Clay, Fayette, Monroe, Roane and Summers counties were granted that declaration Tuesday. Three counties--Greenbrier, Kanawha and Nicholas--were originally granted federal disaster status on Saturday.

Tomblin also lifted the State of Emergency for all counties with the exception of 12: Kanawha, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Fayette, Clay, Roane, Summers, Webster, Pocahontas, Monroe, Lincoln and Jackson counties.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. For the latest information be sure to keep refreshing this page.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016:

Tomblin says a Federal Disaster Declaration has been approved for five more flood-ravaged counties in West Virginia.

Tomblin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the state's request for Clay, Fayette, Monroe, Roane and Summers counties. It allows residents to apply for individual assistance from FEMA.

Previously, federal disaster declarations were approved for the three hardest-hit counties — Greenbrier, Kanawha and Nicholas.

Tomblin said he's waiting word on disaster requests made earlier Tuesday for Pocahontas and Webster counties.

Flash flooding last week damaged thousands of homes and businesses and killed 23 people. Tomblin previously issued a state of emergency in 44 counties, which authorizes the mobilization of state resources for flood-relief efforts.

 

Federal disaster relief is making its way into West Virginia after severe storms and flooding killed at least 23 people last week. Federal Emergency Management Agency- or FEMA- crews have already begun their work with individual homeowners to assess personal property damage.

FEMA officials said they will have a mobile unit to coordinate efforts in place by Wednesday and they are already providing food and water to the hardest hit areas.

A truck lays on the banks of Howard Creek just outside of White Sulphur Springs on Monday, June 27, 2016. That vehicle joined others in a stretch of the creek that were covered in uprooted trees and other debris.
Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The American Red Cross has more than 400 disaster relief workers on the ground providing meals and aiding in search and clean-up efforts.

General James Hoyer with the West Virginia National Guard says more than 500 members of the Guard have been mobilized and he expects that number to reach 700 this week. Hoyer said Monday several hundred of his men and women will remain active for weeks to aid in clean-up efforts.

Monday, June 27, 2016:

The number of deaths resulting from last week's severe floods have been revised by the West Virginia Medical Examiner's  Office. According the to the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, two people who were presumed dead after their camper was washed away by flood waters were found alive, bringing the death toll to 23.

With more heavy rain forecasted, a flash flood watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for much of southern West Virginia. The watch is in effect all day Monday and expires at 9 p.m. Greenbrier and Summers counties will be under a watch until midnight.

According to the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 88 percent of residents in Clay and Roane Counties are without power as of Monday morning. 

Response efforts were winding down Sunday in most areas, although Kanawha and Greenbrier County emergency management personnel continue going house-to-house, searching for anyone left behind by the dangerous floods.

In Kanawha County, trained rescue units are making a second sweep of homes in the Clendenin and Frame areas. Officials say they’re double checking each house because they want to make sure they didn’t miss anything on a quick, first pass-through. They also say there is no timetable for when search and rescue operations will finish. 

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Greenbrier County officials on the ground there say search and rescue operations continue throughout the county in the areas of White Sulphur Springs, Rainelle, Rupert and Renick.

Cleanup continues around the state as the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived Saturday and began by focusing on aerial assessments of the impacted areas. The agency begins on-the-ground damage assessments this week.

Three of the hardest hit counties, Nicholas, Kanawha and Greenbrier, were approved Saturday for individual federal disaster relief.  

"This federal support will provide much needed assistance to severely-impacted regions," Gov. Tomblin said in a news release.

"As emergency response efforts continue, with members of the National Guard and local emergency responders hard at work helping our neighbors, we will continue pursuing additional assistance for all affected areas."

The Associated Press reports that President Obama spoke to Tomblin by phone Saturday to offer federal assistance and condolences to the people of West Virginia.

The declaration will provide  emergency medical support, housing and addresses a number of immediate needs to residents of the three counties, according to Tomblin's release. Damage assessments continue in many other counties--including Clay, Fayette, Monroe, Ritchie, Summers and Webster counties. Tomblin said additional requests may be submitted to FEMA. 

Door-to-door searches continued into Saturday afternoon in western Greenbrier County, including Rainelle, according to emergency officials. Deputy director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Paula Brown said the agency is fielding questions about missing persons, but has no way to tell how many reports have come in to county officials or who might be missing. 

State officials said Saturday that, overall, emergency officials are moving from a response to a recovery--noting that pockets of the state remain in a difficult position. 

A portion of U.S. Route 60 washed away about 15 miles from Rainelle. As of Saturday morning, emergency crews were going door-to-door checking on the well-being of flood victims in western Greenbrier County.
Credit Courtesy Photo Alex Wiederspiel / WVMetroNews

Flood Response by the Numbers (as of 7:45 p.m. Sunday), According to WVDHSEM

Number of fatalities remains at 25 

  • 17 in Greenbrier County
  • 6 in Kanawha County
  • 1 in Ohio County
  • 1 in Jackson County

17,280 homes and businesses still without power.

Updated: Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday afternoon it was deploying two separate units to West Virginia to provide support and guidance on the Federal Disaster Declaration Process. FEMA's Region 3, based in Philadelphia, is deploying a Incident Management Assistance Team and Preliminary Damage Assessment teams. These teams will work with state and local officials, as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration to assess damages and impact to communities.

"We've been able to get folks into shelters if they were stranded. The next phase is getting the FEMA teams in. We'll be starting that process today and going through the weekend and into next week--so we can get the application prepared for a Federal Disaster Declaration," said Governor Tomblin's Chief of Staff Chris Stadelman on Saturday morning. 

Stadelman says there is a threshold of $4 million in damages to be eligible for a Federal Disaster Declaration. If the state reaches that threshold, they will also have to match some of those federal dollars. 

Greenbrier County was one of the hardest hit areas. Sheriff Jan Cahill said at least 13 were killed there.

John Manchester, mayor of the hard-hit town of Lewisburg in Greenbrier County, said a stretch of highway was completely washed away. Houses were thrown from their foundations and the rubble lines creek beds all over the county. 

The PGA announced Saturday that the Greenbrier Classic is canceled following the flood. 

Flooding in Kanawha County
Credit Josh Saul / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Severe weather began earlier this week. A confirmed EF-1 tornado, which has wind speeds of up to 110 mph, hit Nicholas County on Tuesday.

West Virginia roads officials have been dealing with downed trees and power poles, high water, accidents and other problems due to ongoing storms. Several accidents have been reported in recent days due to hydroplaning, and there are intermittent traffic signal outages.

Nicholas and Greenbrier counties were the first to be declared states of emergency late Thursday, June 23rd, in the afternoon. Emergency shelters began to open and reports of evacuations started to come in soon after. Jackson County Emergency Management officials report day two of a search for a male child between 2 and 4 will begin at 9 a.m. this morning. The boy was swept away Thursday, June 23rd, by swift water behind his home near Ravenswood. 

By Thursday evening, West Virginia’s Governor Earl Ray Tomblin expanded the state of emergency to include 44 of the state’s 55 counties --all but the northern and eastern panhandles.

Tomblin released a statement Friday morning calling the flooding events "the worst in a century for some parts of the state." He's authorized 500 members of the West Virginia National Guard to assist with local emergency responders and says some waters are still rising this morning.

A state policeman inspects the mudslide covering route 39 west of Richwood, late June 23rd.
Credit Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This is a developing story, please keep revisiting the post for the latest update. For the latest on severe weather advisories, visit the National Weather Service. For road closures, visit the West Virginia Department of Transportation's WV511.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 5:50 p.m.

Kanawha County Sheriff's Sgt. B.D. Humphreys says rescue crews have begun evacuating an estimated 500 people who were trapped by high water in a West Virginia shopping center.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending teams to West Virginia in response to flooding.

FEMA said in a news release Friday the teams will participate in joint preliminary damage assessments with the state and local officials and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The assessments will include Clay, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Webster and other counties.

FEMA said the information will be compiled and reviewed by the state, which may decide that a request for federal assistance is warranted.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 4:15 p.m.

County Public Information Officer Brooke Hyobert reports folks in Kanawha County were escorted out on foot by first responders early this morning and taken by bus to Capitol High School. Capitol is the only currently open shelter in Kanawha County, but people can get food, water, and electricity there. Also cots are available for those in need of sleep.

Various Kanawha County fire departments are conducting water rescues in Elkview and Clendenin areas with some assistance from the National Guard. Thursday they focused on vehicle rescues, Friday they are focused on homes and people who left their homes and got stuck on higher ground.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 3:00 p.m.

In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Tomblin said he's mobilized 500 members of the National Guard at this point to help support relief efforts throughout the lower region of West Virginia. He said the six counties hardest hit took major structural damage, at least 100 homes are ruined, 17 shelters are open across the state, and 66,000 are without power.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 11:50 a.m.

 

The three deaths in Kanawha County and one in Ohio County are "believed to be storm related," according to sources in the Governor’s office.  Deputy Director of Emergency Management in Kanawha County, C.W. Sigman, says two of the Kanawha County fatalities were found near local creeks: one inside a vehicle along Wills Creek and the second near Jordan Creek. Reports in Ohio County indicate that the 8-year-old who fell into the creek was caught by fast-moving water.

Kanawha County Sheriff's Sgt. B.D. Humphreys says rescue crews have begun evacuating an estimated 500 people who were trapped by high water in a West Virginia shopping center. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's communications director, Chris Stadelman, said the people were trapped at the Crossings Mall in Elkview after a culvert bridge washed out.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 9:30 a.m.  A West Virginia official says there are confirmed fatalities from flooding that has devastated parts of the state. Chris Stadelman, who's Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's communications director, said Friday morning that three people died in Kanawha County.  He didn't have details and said the numbers don't include a young boy who crews have been looking for after he was swept away by swift water Thursday in Jackson County.

Updated Friday, June 24 at 7:30 a.m.

FirstEnergy is reporting that 34,000 of 540,000 customers are affected by the recent weather events. Hard hit counties include Greenbrier, Monroe, and Clay counties. The company expects to restore power by Friday afternoon.
 

Appalachian Power reported about 24,000 were without electricity as of Thursday June 23rd, in the early evening. Hardest hit counties include Kanawha, Fayette, Jackson, Greenbrier, Roane, and Nicholas. The company expects to restore power to Cabell, Jackson and Mason by Friday evening, and hopes Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Raleigh and Roane will have power restored by late Friday evening.

Gauley River June 24th, 2016
Credit Aaron Shackelford / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated Thursday, June 23 at 11:38 p.m.

State officials say Interstate 79 between mile markers 10 and 23 have been reopened following a mudslide earlier Thursday near Amma. Heavy flooding continued in the area into the evening and night. Here's video submitted by Mark Bolton from earlier Thursday looking down on O'Dell's Exxon gas station, looking down from the interstate:

Updated Thursday, June 23 at 10:15 p.m.

Governor Tomblin expanded his state of emergency proclamation to include 44 counties: 

Jenny Gannaway State Chair of West Virginia’s chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is coordinating disaster relief efforts in Charleston. She says the storm is ""probably worse than what we've seen in recent years." 

Gannaway says efforts are underway to assist in opening shelters and getting relief to counties in need. Teams are on standby to help with tree removal,  damage assessments, emotional and spiritual care, and setting up feeding sites tomorrow.

Updated Thursday, June 23 at 7:36 p.m.

Jackson County emergency responders continue to search for a missing toddler after receiving a call at 4:25 p.m. Thursday that he was swept away by swift water due to flooding. 

911 / Office of Emergency Services Deputy Director Chad Walters the Ravenswood, Ripley and Cottageville Fire Departments have deployed boats on the Ohio River as well as Sandy Creek in Ravenswood as they search for the boy.

State agencies, including the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, are also assisting in the search. 

Updated Thursday, June 23 at 7:15 p.m.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation says a mudslide closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 79 near the Amma Exit. A tractor-trailer is stuck in the mud. The DOT says to expect delays as the road is cleared.

Severe weather continues to move across West Virginia  Thursday evening with heavy rainfall causing flooding in some counties. Greenbrier and Nicholas Counties have been placed under a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service in Charleston has also issued hazardous weather advisories for much of the state Thursday. This includes a tornado watch for western and southern parts of the state. 

Updated Thursday, June 23 at 6:54 p.m.

According to the W.Va. Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Red Cross says Liberty Baptist Church in Richwood is sheltering 90 displaced nursing home residents who are in dire need of oxygen. Liberty Baptist is at 157 Riverside Dr, Richwood West Virginia.

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6:25 p.m.

Kanawha County Metro 911 is reporting dozens of water rescues in the county, with many being reported in Clendenin. High water, downed trees and vehicle accidents are also being reported across the county.

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6:16 p.m.

Jackson County Emergency Management Director Walter Smittle says first responders are continuing to search for a male child between 2 and 4 who was swept away by swift water.

Emergency crews--including officials from the Ravenswood, Ripley and Cottageville fire departments, as well as others from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Ravenswood Police Department and the West Virginia State Police--were dispatched around 4:25 p.m. to Utah Rd. just outside of Ravenswood. They said the boy has yet to be located but crews are continuing to search for him.

Smittle says they've received reports of flash flooding across the county all afternoon and are uring residents to use caution and stay inside.

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6:03 p.m.

Four shelters are open in Greenbrier County: Quinwood, Rainelle, Rupert, White Sulphur, and a fifth is opening up in Ronceverte.  

Greenbrier County Emergency Management Deputy Director Paula Brown says The National Guard is coming to assist with evacuations. A Swiftwarer Rescue Team is headed from Preston County. Many people have been evacuated from their homes, cars and buses.

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:51 p.m.

Mike Baker, director of Braxton County Emergency Services, says that there are several roads closed due to flooding in the county. Emergency officials have evacuated 10 people from two homes in the Heaters/Stone Run area. Baker says most of the issues are in the southern part of the county. Baker is asking residents to stay home and off the roads. He's also asking people to only call 911 in a true emergency. Crews are working to try and clear roads and help people as best they can. 

 

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:49 p.m.

Governor Tomblin says earlier reports from Nicholas County that the Summit Lake Dam has breached or overtopped are false. He says the U. S. Forest Service has inspected the dam and the West Virginia Division of Emergency Management continues to monitor the situation. 

 

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:36 p.m.

Greenbrier County Emergency Management officials say the county is under a state of emergency with heavy flooding is occurring across the county.  Rupert, Rainelle and White Sulphur Springs said to be the hardest hit areas with most roadways closed.  

Two shelters are open--one in Rupert and the other in the western part of the county. The National Guard is coming and a swiftwater crew. Another extreme storm is going to be in that area for the next 3 hours. Officials are asking residents to stay indoors.

 

First responders in Fayette County say they are to busy to speak at the moment. While they have no road closures to report right now they are dealing with "several issues" related to severe weather. 

Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

Following heavy rainfall and an overflow of the Summit Lake Dam, the city of Richwood in Nicholas County is seeing considerable flooding and some residents have been evacuated to shelters in the area.

According to Nicholas County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Jim Lawson, the dam has not breached or broken. 

Water overflowing from the top of the dam has stopped, said Lawson. 

Nicholas County's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management issued a notice at 3:30 p.m. Thursday stating the county commission has issued a state of emergency.  

Original Post from Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 3:29 p.m.

Severe weather began earlier this week. A confirmed tornado EF-1 tornado, which has wind speeds of up to 110 mph, hit Nicholas County on Tuesday.

 

West Virginia roads officials are dealing with downed trees and power poles, high water, accidents and other problems due to ongoing storms. Several accidents have been reported in recent days due to hydroplaning, and there are intermittent traffic signal outages. 

 

A tornado watch is in effect till 10:15 Thursday evening.

  • Boone
  • Braxton
  • Cabell
  • Calhoun
  • Clay
  • Fayette
  • Gilmer
  • Jackson
  • Kanawha
  • Lincoln
  • Logan
  • Mason
  • McDowell
  • Mingo
  • Nicholas
  • Putnam
  • Raleigh
  • Roane
  • Wayne
  • Wirt
  • Wood
  • Wyoming

A flash flood warning is in effect till 6:30.

The National Weather Service advises residents of these areas to use caution and to more to a interior room on the lowest floor of a building.