Devastating images reveal damage wrought by flash flooding in rural Virginia

·2-min read

Heavy rain caused devastating floods in part of rural, southwest Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday as search and rescue crews looked for missing people.

Over 40 people had initially been unaccounted for due to the floods and storms. As of Thursday afternoon, all of them had been found, with no deaths reported.

But the damage to some communities was severe, and will likely take months or longer to rebuild.

Images that emerged show cars crushed and buildings that drifted away.

A decks sits on top of a truck in Whitewood, a small town in Buchanan County (AP)
A decks sits on top of a truck in Whitewood, a small town in Buchanan County (AP)

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has declared a state of emergency for the region.

Flood waters surround the Whitewood Community Center (AP)
Flood waters surround the Whitewood Community Center (AP)

“As we continue to assess the situation, I want to thank our first responders and the personnel on the ground for providing assistance with our ongoing operations in Buchanan County. While rescue and recovery continues, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy,” the governor said in a statement.

Aerial images show an overflow at the Dismal Creek in Pilgrim’s Knob, Virginia (Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
Aerial images show an overflow at the Dismal Creek in Pilgrim’s Knob, Virginia (Virginia Department of Emergency Management)

Over 100 homes are reported to have suffered damage. Some homes were reportedly ripped out from their foundations.

A truck teeters near the river after flooding washed through part of rural Appalachian Virginia (AP)
A truck teeters near the river after flooding washed through part of rural Appalachian Virginia (AP)

Thousands of customers were also left without power due to the storm, though service was starting to return to some areas. Much of Buchanan County is very rural and mountainous.

A displaced home sits on top of a car (AP)
A displaced home sits on top of a car (AP)

Roads and bridges had also been damaged, with some routes still impassable by Thursday morning.

A collapsed bridge in Buchanan County, after intense flooding (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
A collapsed bridge in Buchanan County, after intense flooding (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

A full assessment of the damage would start soon, an official said during a press conference on Thursday.

A church sits in disarray with water water damage after floods (AP)
A church sits in disarray with water water damage after floods (AP)

Flash floods like the one that occured in Buchanan County this week could become more common as the climate crisis grows. One study this year found that as warmer temperatures supercharge the amount of rain dumped by some storms, more parts of the country could witness these kinds of dangerous, rapid-onset flood events.

Flood damage is visible in Whitewood, Virginia (AP)
Flood damage is visible in Whitewood, Virginia (AP)

This part of Virginia also experience intense flooding last year as Hurricane Ida powered through in the late summer. One person died during that event.

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