ROANOKE, Virginia, July 13, 2022 (ENS) – Responders are racing to Buchanan County in southwestern Virginia to conduct water rescues and search for at least 44 people reported missing. As flooding rains inundated residents still recovering from the floods of last year, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin today declared a state of emergency and activated the Virginia National Guard to help with response and recovery.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that another flood has impacted a community still recovering from last year’s flood,” said Governor Youngkin. “In the wake of the devastation, I want Virginians in Buchanan County to know that we are making every resource available to help those impacted by this storm. As we continue to assess the situation, I want to thank our first responders and the personnel on the ground for providing assistance with our ongoing operations in Buchanan County.”
Buchanan County is in far western Virginia, the only Virginia county to border both the states of West Virginia and Kentucky. The county lies in the rugged Appalachian Plateau portion of the Appalachian Mountains. With a current population of about 20,000, Buchanan has been in the bottom five percent of Virginia counties when ranked by median income for 10 years, accordng to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Especially hard hit is the unincorporated community of Pilgrim’s Knob, population 479, located along the Dismal River, part of the Big Sandy River watershed.
Severe weather began hitting parts of Virginia’s southwest region on Tuesday, July 12, and continued into the early morning hours of July 13.
Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Buchanan County, along with power outages, damage to roads and other infrastructure, and “significant resource and operational challenges,” the governor’s office said.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said tonight that no fatalities have been reported, but that there are 44 people who remain unaccounted for. A person is considered unaccounted for when family members have been unable to contact them. The sheriff’s office says it is making progress in locating those unaccounted for.
The Commonwealth of Virginia is assisting with ongoing response and recovery operations, “which includes providing assets and supplies to our local partners. The Virginia Emergency Support Team will continue to support this incident,” the governor said.
The state of emergency he declared allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts. The declaration also allows officials from Virginia to coordinate the provision of resources with state and local partners. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.
Featured image: Flooding in Buchanan County, Virginia, July 13, 2022 (Photo courtesy Virginia Dept. of Emergency Management)
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