Officials: 40 missing following widespread flooding in southwest Virginia
BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — Officials in Buchanan County, Virginia, revealed during a press conference Wednesday that there have not been any fatalities reported following widespread floods Tuesday night. However, roughly three dozen people remain missing.
“We are currently following up on approximately 40 missing persons as a result of this flood,” Chief Deputy Eric Breeding of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office told media Wednesday.
Officials said that number is expected to decrease as cell service in the area improves and operations continue.
According to Breeding, authorities began responding to the reports of damage and rising water Tuesday night in Buchanan County, located along Virginia’s border with Kentucky and West Virginia. After the severity of the situation became more apparent overnight and through the morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VEMA) was contacted to assist.
Breeding said that as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, search and rescue operations remained ongoing. Roads heading into the area are closed except to emergency personnel, and the public is asked to avoid the area.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office asks that anyone who had previously reported a person missing and later found or contacted them to inform the sheriff’s office. Anyone who needs to contact the BCSO hotline to report a missing person is asked to call 833-748-1424.
As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities were asking people to refrain from sending unsolicited donations until a full stock of the situation can be taken.
Authorities say the flooding has damaged more than 100 homes. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts.
More scattered showers could hit the region on Wednesday.
Buchanan County also suffered serious flooding damage last year, when the remnants of a hurricane hit the area in August, washing away homes and leaving one person dead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.