CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — At least four deaths have been reported in flooding that has devastated parts of West Virginia, a state official said Friday morning.
Chris Stadelman, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s communications director, said three people have died in Kanawha County and a fourth died in Wheeling. 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.
Stadelman said some areas in the state were “probably looking at flooding that’s going to be the worst in 100 years.”
Storms with heavy rain rolled into West Virginia early Thursday and continued throughout the day leaving tens of thousands without power and several roads impassable due to high water.
The fatalities included at least one child. Wheeling police told newspaper The Intelligencer that an 8-year-old boy died after he was swept away by swift water.
Stadelman said Friday morning that some areas were “devastated.” He said the hardest hit counties included Greenbrier, Nicholas, Fayette, Kanawha and Webster.
Tomblin issued a state of emergency on Thursday for 44 counties in the state. He said in a statement Friday that the Emergency Operations Center worked through the night and was continuing to coordinate with local officials Friday.
“I have authorized the deployment of up to 150 members of the West Virginia National Guard to assist local emergency responders as we continue to evaluate the situation today,” he said.
Although some areas were evacuated, Stadelman said others had to be rescued.
“We had swift water rescue teams out until late last night and back out again his morning literally rescuing people from rooftops and upper stories of houses,” he said.
The Kanawha Sheriff’s Department put out a statement urging residents to stay off the roads unless there is an emergency.
“Due to the widespread flooding through the county, there are many road closures. Travel throughout the county will be very dangerous today,” the statement said, and warned drivers not to travel through high water.
Meanwhile across the state line, Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency in Alleghany County and Covington after severe weather and flooding there. Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted Thursday night that a state of emergency has been declared, allowing state agencies to bypass some time-consuming procedures to quickly help local governments.
Three emergency workers were injured during a water rescue in Alleghany County, officials said. Botetourt County Battalion Chief Andrew Moore said by telephone Friday that one worker fell in the water during a rescue in Alleghany County on Thursday night. The worker was in critical but stable condition, he said. Two other workers hurt while rescuing their colleague received minor injuries and were released from a hospital, he said.
The Virginia Department of Transportation warns that more than a dozen Alleghany County roads were closed Friday morning due to flooding and there were reports of downed trees and utility lines. Dominion Power reports about 1,700 customers without power statewide.
Associated Press writer Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.