West Virginia Flood: Death Toll Rises To 20

West Virginia is under a state of emergency as the death toll from the flooding in the state is now at 20 people, but officials fear that number will continue to rise. Greenbriar County, which is approximately 120 miles southeast of Charleston, West Virginia, is one of the hardest areas hit with 13 of the fatalities coming from the area.

About nine inches of rain is estimated to have dumped on various areas of the state in approximately six-to-eight hours, according to the Weather Network, causing widespread flooding, power outages and leaving countless people stranded. Tens of thousands of people are without power, according to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Approximately 500 people were stranded overnight in a shopping mall after a bridge washed out, but they were rescued today.

Gas was shut off in the town of White Sulphur Springs and it’s not hard to understand why. Someone captured video of a burning house being swept away by the floods, and posted it online.

An 8-year-old boy and a 4-year-old boy are among the fatalities in the West Virginia flood. Both boys were swept away by rushing water in two different counties. Eight-year-old Emanual Williams was walking with his mother and sister looking for crawdads, but his mother was unable to keep hold of him in the current. Four-year-old Edward McMillion was with his grandfather when he fell into the creek. The man jumped in after the child but was unable to reach him.

After the governor declared a state of emergency in 44 of 55 counties in West Virginia, he authorized up to 500 soldiers to help in the area. Currently, there are approximately 200 National Guardsmen who are helping with rescues from the water, searching homes, welfare checks on people, and extraction. The flood is the third-deadliest flooding event on record in the state, according to West Virginia climatologist Kevin Law.

While search and rescue is the priority right now in West Virginia, according to Governor Tomblin, a state of emergency was also declared in Virginia where three rescue workers were injured during a water rescue. One of the workers fell into the water during the rescue and is in critical, but stable, condition, and the other two suffered minor injuries while saving their colleague. Lightning caused several fires in Virginia and there were areas that were evacuated as a precaution when flooding began.

The Greenbriar golf course in West Virginia, is set to host the Greenbriar Classic, a major PGA event, from July 4 to July 10. Pro golfer Bubba Watson was visiting the course when the floods hit, and he posted a video on Twitter of some of the holes that players will be playing in two short weeks.

Although the worst of the storms have passed in West Virginia, large river flooding is expected to continue into Saturday morning. The bad weather started earlier in the week with an EF1 tornado touching down on Tuesday. The low-pressure system that brought all these systems into the area is leaving, but there is still a chance of showers and thunderstorms today and Sunday. There are currently 60 roads closed around the state and crews are working to restore power to the nearly 66,000 residents that are in the dark.

[Photo by Steve Helber/AP Images]