Flood damage in the Pilgrim's Knob section of Buchanan County. Photo by Lakin Keene.

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The last three people who were unaccounted for after massive flooding hit part of Buchanan County late Tuesday are safe, the sheriff’s office told a local TV station Thursday.

How to help

Donate to the Buchanan County 2022 Disaster Fund at https://unitedwayswva.charityproud.org/Donate/Index/19717 or by calling Cristie Lester at 276-525-4071.

Early Wednesday, as the scope of the overnight flooding became clear, local officials had said that 44 people were unaccounted for. They emphasized that many of those people likely were in homes that had been cut off from roads and phone service, and were safe but unable to make contact with loved ones. Cellphone service is spotty at best in the area, and most residents maintain landline service. 

Door-to-door canvassing had been going on since Wednesday morning, but the task was complicated by still-high water and large piles of debris. 

By Thursday morning, the number had dropped to 17, and by lunchtime everyone had been accounted for, according to a report on television station WCYB.

The National Weather Service office in Charleston, West Virginia, said it had reports of 4.5 inches to 5 inches of rain falling over the area in just a few hours Tuesday night. The agency issued a flash flood warning at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is still determining the extent of damages and will have crews in the area on Friday to begin the assessment process, spokesperson Lauren Opett said Thursday.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has sent crews from across the region to help reopen roads. Spokeswoman Michelle Earl said that as of Thursday morning, three VDOT routes remained impassable: Virginia 715, Virginia 635 and Virginia 628. A span of bridge has been washed out on Virginia 715, but the other two roads are expected to reopen to some traffic by the end of the day.

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Power remained out Thursday morning to about 1,300 Appalachian Power customers in the area, spokeswoman Teresa Hamilton Hall said. That total includes houses that have been destroyed or so badly damaged that can’t be reconnected, she said; the utility hopes to have power restored to most of the other homes by tomorrow.

One Appalachian Power substation was destroyed and two others were damaged, Hall said. Appalachian crews also are dealing with downed distribution lines. Trees continue to fall in some places where the ground is saturated, she said, so outage numbers are expected to fluctuate.

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Megan Schnabel

Megan Schnabel is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach her at megan@cardinalnews.org.