UPDATE: Authorities in Buchanan County have located all of the 44 people who were reported unaccounted for following flooding that brought significant damage to the area.
BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has declared a state of emergency to help assist in providing resources for response and recovery efforts due to the impacts of heavy rainfall and severe flooding in the southwest region.
The severe weather began hitting the region on Tuesday, July 12, and continued into the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 13. Flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall ravaged Buchanan County, bringing power outages, damage to roads and other infrastructure, and significant resource and operational challenges, according to a release by the governor.
According to Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Eric Breeding, around 40 people have been listed as unaccounted for with police by friends and family as a result of the flooding.
A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and deploy people and the 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.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is responding alongside swift water-rescue teams, multiple fire departments and EMS agencies. The department reported that roughly ten miles worth of the county had received significant damage but was unable to estimate how many homes or buildings had been destroyed.
Police are encouraging anyone who has a loved one missing as a result of the flooding to go to the Reunification Center at Twin Valley Elementary/Middle School, located at 9017 Riverside Drive in Oakwood. This school is also currently serving as an emergency shelter.
The Sheriff’s Office has also created a hotline number to call in missing persons reports related to the flooding. This number is 833-748-1424.