The number of people missing after a devastating flood that ripped through Virginia on Tuesday night and destroyed more than 100 homes has risen to 44, officials said.
Children are among the missing, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said, but they clarified that the people are not in danger, just missing as of this writing.
“We currently have 44 people missing as a result of the flooding event in the Whitewood area of Buchanan County,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“This number reflects the number of people who have been reported to law enforcement by loved ones and family members for being unable to contact them.
“This does not mean the person is missing, it means we are trying to contact and locate the person and check on their well-being. At this time we have no confirmed deaths.”
The natural disaster left Buchanan County in shambles, and locals desperately searched for lost loved ones.
WDBJ7 reported that the flooding destroyed phone service and other methods of contact, making it difficult to search for missing people.
An official with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said search and rescue efforts are being hampered by landslides and poor road conditions, a local journalist said reported.
“Many roads are blocked by landslides. Bridges are washed out. It will take time to restore that access, to connect with everyone, and to make sure their basic needs are met,” said Bill Chrimes, the Virginia Department of Disaster Relief.
Crews from Bedford County’s Special Operations Command are en route to Buchanan County to help with flood damage.
A reunion center was established at Twin Valley Elementary in Oakwood, Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Health is on site to conduct basic medical screenings, WDBJ7 reported.
The American Red Cross also helps with medical care.
Roanoke County Fire and Rescue and the Lynchburg Fire Department responded to this incident.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to help recovery efforts, the AP reported.
“As we continue to assess the situation, I would like to thank our first responders and personnel on the ground for their support with our ongoing operations in Buchanan County,” Youngkin said in a statement.
“As rescue and recovery continue, please join me in prayer as we lift up our Virginians affected by this tragedy.”
“The situation is currently in the emergency response phase,” said United Way of Southwest Virginia CEO Travis Staton.
“We are in contact with Buchanan County authorities and will begin offering on-the-ground support as soon as they let us know how and where we can do the most good.
“The best we can do now is to get out of the way of first responders and keep everyone affected in our thoughts and prayers.”
Officials say the missing may not be in immediate danger as they cannot be contacted by phone at this time.
However, they are still working on screening all transferred people to see if they are okay.
Authorities also said the number of missing people is expected to decrease as fast-water rescue teams continue to survey the area, according to a reporter for the AP said.
So far there have been no confirmed deaths or injuries from the widespread disaster.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5769250/buchanan-county-flooding-virginia-news-update-today/ Flooding in Buchanan County leaves at least 44 people missing, including children, roads blocked with landslides and homes destroyed