All 44 people who were unaccounted for following heavy flooding in rural Virginia have been located, authorities said Thursday, and no deaths or injuries have been reported.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said early on Thursday that 25 people were located overnight as nearly 20 search and rescue crews continued to work to locate and reunite 17 residents in the flooded communities.
But as of Thursday afternoon, all of those who were reported missing in Buchanan County had been found.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, a day after up to 6 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours in southwestern Virginia, causing flash floods and triggering landslides, washing out bridges and making some roads in the Appalachian Mountain region impassable. Thousands of people were left without power.
"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," Youngkin said in a statement. "While rescue and recovery continues, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy."
At a press conference on Wednesday, officials said that more than 40 people were unaccounted for, but stressed that those missing were not necessarily in danger.
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“They have been reported missing because their family members might not have been able to get in contact with them due to power outages in the area,” said Billy Chrimes, a search and rescue specialist with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
“A lot of roadways are blocked by landslides,” Chrimes said. “It’s going to take time for that access to be restored, make contact with everyone and make sure they have their basic needs taken care of.”
More than 100 homes were damaged — including some that were torn from their foundations and swept away by the floodwaters — according to the department, with some of the worst destruction seen in the town of Whitewood.
“We were sitting at this post office over here, and the next thing you know, the house is floating on down through there,” Seth Owens, a local resident, told NBC’s WCYB-TV affiliate. “We thought it was going to wash off.”
The sheriff’s office advised residents with loved ones who are unaccounted for, or who may have been affected by the flooding, to call 1-833-748-1424.