Historically Large West Virginia Floods Killed More Than 20 People In Two Days

by Jake Cappuccino

Nine inches of rain have caused some of the worst and most lethal flooding in the history of West Virginia, resulting in the deaths of 23 people so far, the destruction of hundreds of homes and thousands of homes without power, according to NBC News.

According to CBS News,West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in 44 of the state's 55 counties as a result of the flooding. Near Charleston, the state's capital, the Elk River was measured at 33 feet, the highest it's been since 1888, according to Slate.

Tomblin said in a statement,

The flooding we experienced Thursday and into today is among the worst in a century for some parts of the state. Our team in the Emergency Operations Center worked through the night and continues to coordinate efforts with local officials today. On Thursday evening I declared a State of Emergency for 44 counties, including all but the Northern and Eastern Panhandles. 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. We understand many counties continue to experience significant problems and some waters continue to rise. Joanne and I are thinking continually about those affected by this disaster, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones. I appreciate the tireless efforts of first responders across the state, many of whom have volunteered to travel long distances to help those in the most affected areas.

The historic floods also reportedly cost two children their lives. According to The Intelligencer, 8-year-old Emanuel Williams was walking with his mother and sister when he slipped into the high-speed current and was swept away. Another child, 4-year-old Edward Mcmillion, according to local CBS affiliate WOWK.

The flooding was even bad enough to shut down the training camp of the New Orleans Saints, which holds it summer practice sessions in West Virginia.

The flooding was apparently powerful enough to easily move large vehicles around in what Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described as "complete chaos," according to the Associated Press.

Video shows car being swept down the road by rushing floodwaters in Richwood, West Virginia. — ABC News (@ABC) June 24, 2016

In one clip, a house is literally on fire floating down floodwaters.

Video shows floodwaters carrying burning house through White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. — ABC News (@ABC) June 24, 2016

People tweeted their shock in response to the death tolls as well as hopes and prayers for the hundreds of affected families.

My thoughts & prayers are with all those affected by the devastation in #WestVirginia #BeSafe — Jazmin Nelson (@jazzshabamm) June 25, 2016
#prayersup #WestVirginia — sharlay (@gordon38821) June 25, 2016

Citations: West Virginia Floods: 23 Killed, Including Toddler, as Thousands Left Without Power (NBC News), "Just high water everywhere": Deadly flooding swamps West Virginia (CBS News), At Least 14 Killed in Widespread West Virginia Flooding (Slate), Governor Tomblin Issues Statement on Flooding Response Effort (Office of the Governor Early Ray Tomblin), Police Find Body of Child Who Fell into Big Wheeling Creek (The Intelligencer), UPDATE: Body of Ravenswood Toddler Found (WOWK), The Latest: State agency updates flooding death toll to 23 (Associated Press)