West Virginia Flood: Kanawha River Barges Break Loose, Search For Missing Ravenwood Toddler Continues

The West Virginia flood prompted Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to issue a state of emergency. Multiple fatalities are believed to have been caused by intense flash flooding on Thursday. Barges broke loose in the bulging Kanawha River, multiple roads are closed, electricity is out for thousands of customers, and a search for a Ravenwood toddler swept away by the water remains ongoing.

The West Virginia flooding caused a 4-year-old toddler to be carried away from his grandfather. The grandfather tried to reach the toddler and save him, but the current was just too strong and swept the child out of reach. The grandfather was able to get out of the water safely, WCHS-TV News reported. Search and rescue team members were able to spot the toddler twice, but the water was moving too quickly for them to reach the child.

At least two people are known to have perished due to the West Virginia flash flooding. Emanual Williams, an 8-year-old boy, was also swept away by flood waters during the storm and was found, unresponsive, in a creek near Wheeling. Williams was later pronounced dead at an area hosptial. The second known fatality was an elderly man who drown in the rising water in Kanawha County.

A spokesperson for Governor Earl Ray Tomlin has deemed the natural disaster likely the worst flooding West Virginia has seen in a century, Fox News reports.

“Certain portions of Greenbrier and Nicholas Counties have been rendered inaccessible because of public infrastructure damage,” a release from Governor Tomblin’s office said.

The Greenbrier Resort is slated to host the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic in a little more than a week. A media release from the facility notes the resort and surrounding areas have experienced heavy flooding.

“It’s like nothing I’ve seen,” Greenbrier owner Jim Justice said. “But our focus right now isn’t on the property, the golf course or anything else. We’re praying for the people and doing everything we can to get them the help they need. We surely need your prayers because there’s a lot of people hurting right now.”

Justice added his only concern right now is keeping his staff and guests safe.

In White Sulphur Springs, the intense rains from the storm caused 10 inches of rain to fall in the area, NBC News reported. A burning house was swept into the river and collided with a bridge.

Governor Tomblin’s state of emergency extends to 44 counties in West Virginia. The flash floods also provoked multiple mudslides and rockslides. The number of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed remains unknown at this time.

First responders in Nicholas County are working to relocate residents from their homes in the downtown Richwood area due to the severe flooding. Search and rescue teams have established emergency shelters in multiple locations, with buses being used to transport residents to safety.

According to a National Weather Service report, water is still flowing over the Summit Lake dam in Richwood, but thankfully for residents, the dam has not yet been breached.

“It’s really bad. There’s a raging river,” Alleghany County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Bowser said. “There’s 500-gallon oil tanks and trash cans and gas cans and tree trunks floating down the river where people’s backyards are. You can see people in the second-story windows waiting to be evacuated.”

In the West Virginia town of Elkview, about 4 feet of water flowed over roads, backyards, and into houses.

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