CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Swift water rescue teams from all over West Virginia arrived early Monday in Kanawha County where overnight and morning rainfall pushed small streams out of their banks. Those normally low flowing waters became a raging torrent for several hours.
Residents watched small buildings wash down the main street of their communities and nervously saw the edge of the water slowly advance on their homes. According to emergency officials the damage in some places will be significant.
“Winifrede Hollow, Field’s Creek, Slaughter’s Creek, Little Creek off of Slaughter’s Creek, Witcher Creek, and Kelly’s Creek in Cedar Grove seem like they are the hardest hit,” said C.W. Sigman, Kanawha County’s Director of Emergency Management.
Crews spent much of the morning getting to stranded residents and helping them get to higher ground. Many were stranded in their homes which rapidly became an island.
Governor Jim Justice declared a State of Emergency in Kanawha, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, and Roane Counties. According to the proclamation, the Governor made available assets from the West Virginia National Guard including the All-Hazards swift water rescue team, and aircraft including the UH-72 Lakota and UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters.
The Guard’s Joint Operations Center is on full activation. Additional manpower and units will be activated as requested to assist with response and recovery operations.
“Currently we’re spinning up the swift water rescue team and the helicopters. They are actively being prepared for emergency dispatch,” said Bo Wriston with the West Virginia National Guard.
Although there were a significant number of water rescues and residents impacted by the high water, Sigman said there have been no reports of anyone missing or potentially swept away and no reports of any casualties at this time.