At least 44 people were still unaccounted for after heavy flooding occurred in Buchanan County, Virginia, early Wednesday morning, authorities said. No deaths have been reported so far as a result of the flooding.
Overnight storms caused widespread power outages and infrastructure damage, with some homes having been swept off their foundations in the valley community of Pilgrim's Knob. Responding to the situation, Buchanan County officials received assistance from neighboring fire departments to help in search and rescue efforts.
The Buchanan County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that 44 people were “unaccounted for,” but noted that does not mean they are missing.
“This number reflects the number of people that has been reported to law enforcement by loved ones and family members as being unable to make contact with them,” the sheriff's office said in a news release.
Officials from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) confirmed search efforts were ongoing, and that the affected area has no power, landline service or cell service. The American Red Cross is opening a shelter to support local residents.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon in response to the flooding, mobilizing Commonwealth resources and personnel to aid recovery efforts.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that another flood has impacted a community still recovering from last year's flood,” Youngkin said in a statement. “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.”
Appalachian Power confirmed approximately 3,700 outages in the Grundy area of Buchanan County at the flooding's peak Tuesday night. Around 1,000 customers remain without power, and the company was unable to provide an estimated restoration time, citing damages. One Appalachian Power facility was partially submerged in a picture posted on the company's Twitter.
The sheriff's office has set up a hotline for residents to add names to the search list. That number is 1-833-748-1424.
In a statement, a VDEM official said staff began monitoring the situation Tuesday night, and that emergency responders worked through the night conducting searches.
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