Dozens of people are unaccounted for in Virginia after destructive flooding

More than 40 people are unaccounted for in Buchanan County, Virginia, following severe flooding, heavy rainfall and power outages in the area, officials said.

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said that it is trying to reach and find 44 people to check on their well-being and that it is making progress.

No confirmed deaths or injuries have been reported, the office said.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, officials stressed that not all people who have been reported missing are necessarily in danger.

“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 Virginia Department of Emergency Management search and rescue specialist.

About 18 search and rescue organizations are actively assisting in the search.

An aerial view of Buchanan County, Va., after heavy rains caused flooding and power outages.
An aerial view of Buchanan County, Va., after heavy rains caused flooding and power outages.Red Cross Virginia via @VDEM/Twitter

The flooding was concentrated in the area of Dismal River Road, which includes Dismal River, Patterson, Hale Creek, Pilgrim’s Knob, Whitewood and Jewell Valley, the sheriff’s office said. The communities of Whitewood and Pilgrim’s Knob were primarily affected when Dismal Creek overflowed its banks.

More than 100 homes experienced some damage, including flooding, according to the Emergency Management Department.

A shelter has been set up at Twin Valley Middle School in Oakwood for residents who have been displaced. 

J.R. Miller, who lives in North Carolina, said he was concerned for his family in Pilgrim’s Knob after he heard about the weather that was forecast to hit the state.

Miller, 39, said he was on a video chat call with his aunt until she lost power and phone service.

She was OK and had minimal damage to her home, but the storm took everything Miller’s father had except for his vehicle, he said.

“All his belongings are completely gone or ruined from the 7 inches of water that was in the house,” Miller said. “I will be going up to help him go through stuff and try to salvage what we can.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Wednesday to assist with response and 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.”

Buchanan County also experienced severe flooding and landslides in August as a result of Hurricane Ida. This week’s flooding was less severe but more widespread, authorities said at the news conference Wednesday.