The Latest: West Virginia governor asks for federal disaster help
Published 5:06 pm Saturday, June 25, 2016
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on flooding that has devastated parts of West Virginia (all times local):
4:15 p.m. — Three West Virginia counties have been approved for federal aid following deadly, damaging floods.
A news release from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Saturday says a federal disaster declaration was approved for assistance in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties.
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The declaration provides people in those three counties with individual assistance for emergency medical support, housing and a number of other immediate needs.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the request Saturday. FEMA has started assessing damage in West Virginia.
Damage is still being assessed in other counties, including Clay, Fayette, Monroe, Ritchie, Summers and Webster. The state may still submit additional aid applications to FEMA.
4 p.m. — The PGA Tour says the Greenbrier Classic scheduled for next month has been canceled because of the devastating flooding in West Virginia.
The tournament had been scheduled for July 7-10. Tour officials say the Old White TPC at the Greenbrier Resort, the host course, suffered extensive damage from the flooding and “is beyond reasonable repair to conduct the tournament.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said officials were heartbroken by the devastation in West Virginia. He said canceling the Greenbrier was the most prudent course of action.
The Greenbrier Classic began in 2010. The PGA Tour is committed to holding the event through 2021.
1:30 p.m. — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is asking federal authorities for a major disaster declaration to get help for the three counties in his state hardest hit by flooding.
A statement from his office says Tomblin made an expedited verbal request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday for individual assistance for Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties. Individual assistance includes housing and crisis counseling.
“A federal Major Disaster Declaration would provide our residents with the support they need to rebuild and move forward,” Tomblin’s statement said.
Tomblin said other counties affected by the rain-provoked flooding will also receive help. West Virginians should contact their local emergency management offices.
1 p.m. — About 32,000 West Virginia homes and businesses remain without power Saturday after severe flooding hit the state.
The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management also said Saturday that more than 60 secondary roads in the state were closed. U.S. routes 60 and 119 were closed in multiple locations.
The flooding was sparked by heavy rain late in the week. Authorities said 23 people were killed and scores of homes were damaged after strong thunderstorms rolled into the state on Thursday.
10:15 p.m. — The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says 23 deaths have been confirmed in flooding in the state.
Division Director Jimmy Gianato updated the death toll in a news release late Friday.
The statement says the agency will give an update on rescue and response efforts Saturday morning.
7 p.m. — A historic West Virginia resort located in one of the hardest-hit areas of flooding has closed to guests until further notice.
The 710-room Greenbrier resort sustained damage from the flooding and was using backup generators Friday, according to a post on its Facebook page.
The resort in White Sulphur Springs is in Greenbrier County, where multiple deaths from Thursday’s storms and flooding have occurred. The resort posted photos of its golf course covered in floodwaters.
The online post says the resort, which is owned by billionaire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Justice, is asking guests with plans to stay over the weekend to reschedule.
Justice said in the posting that the resort would reopen as quickly as possible.
5:50 p.m. — The death toll from floodwaters that ravaged West Virginia has climbed to 20 and officials worry more will be found as they begin to clear the rubble.
The tiny town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County in the southeastern part of the state took the brunt of the devastation. The state Division of Homeland Security reported 15 people killed in Greenbrier County and rescue efforts continue.
Three were killed in Kanawha County. Two young boys also died, one in Ohio County and another in Jackson County.
Hundreds more were left homeless and thousands without power.
5:10 p.m. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending teams to West Virginia in response to flooding there.
FEMA said in a news release Friday the teams will participate in joint preliminary damage assessments with the state and local officials and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The assessments will include Clay, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Webster and other counties.
FEMA said the information will be compiled and reviewed by the state, which may decide that a request for federal assistance is warranted.
More than 100 homes were destroyed, thousands are without power and 18 people have died in the storm.
4:15 p.m. — The death toll from the floods that ravaged West Virginia has risen to 18, and officials fear the number will continue to climb.
Chris Stadelman, chief of staff for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, said 14 deaths have been confirmed by the state medical examiner. But local sheriffs and rescue workers across the state confirmed others not yet included in the state’s official tally.
Greenbrier County was one of the hardest hit areas. Sheriff Jan Cahill said at least 13 were killed there.
Three were killed in Kanawha County and one each in Ohio and Jackson counties.
Stadelman said at least 100 homes were destroyed.
John Manchester, mayor of the hard-hit town of Lewisburg in Greenbrier County, said a stretch of highway was completely washed away. Houses were thrown from their foundations and the rubble lines creek beds all over the county.
Rescue crews are braving thick mud and oppressive humidity to search for those still unaccounted for.
4:10 p.m. — A White Sulphur Springs man says his wife called him during the sudden deluge in West Virginia and said their house was filling up with water.
Ronnie Scott told The Associated Press on Friday that his wife, Belinda Scott, fled to the attic. She smelled natural gas and the house blew up. He says she managed to escape through a vent and clung to a tree for more than four hours before she was rescued by state police.
He says she is currently in the hospital with burns on 67 percent of her body.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says a deluge of 9 inches of rain damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes, knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses and killed 14 people.
About 500 people were stranded overnight in a shopping center when a bridge washed out, and dozens of other people had to be plucked off rooftops or rescued from their car as waters quickly rose during the storm.
3 p.m. — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says early reports indicates more than 100 homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed and about 66,000 homes and businesses are still without power after a storm dropped 9 inches of rain on parts of the state.
Tomblin gave an update on the flooding during a news conference Friday. He said 17 shelters were open and 200 National Guard soldiers are actively helping in eight counties with swift water rescues, search and extraction efforts and health and welfare checks.
The governor has declared a state of emergency in 44 of 54 counties and authorized up to 500 soldiers to assist.