BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — After flood waters inundated parts of the county overnight on Tuesday, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office says on Thursday that all previously unaccounted for people have been located. The sheriff’s office announced that no fatalities have occurred as a result of the flooding.
Earlier on Thursday, the sheriff’s office had reported that the original number of 44 unaccounted for people had dropped to 17. As of 10:54 a.m., that number further decreased.
While officials are still surveying the damage, around 100 to 150 residences have been flooded or washed away, according to the sheriff’s office.
According to Chief Deputy Eric Breeding, authorities began responding to the reports of damage and rising water Tuesday night. After the severity of the situation became more apparent overnight and through the morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) was contacted to assist.
Breeding said that as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, search and rescue operations in the Whitewood area of the county remain ongoing. Roads heading into the area are closed except to emergency personnel, and the public is asked to avoid the area.
A news release from the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) revealed that flooding occurred on Dismal River Road in the Dismal River, Patterson, Hale Creek, Pilgrims Knob, Whitewood and Jewell Valley communities.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) asks that anyone who had previously reported a person missing and later found or contacted them to inform the sheriff’s office. Anyone who needs to contact the BCSO hotline to report a missing person is asked to call 833-748-1424.
VDEM reported roughly ten miles worth of the county had received significant damage but was unable to estimate how many homes or buildings had been destroyed.
An emergency shelter has been set up at Twin Valley Elementary School at 9017 Riverside Drive in Oakwood. Those who believe a loved one is missing following the flooding can also report it to the Reunification Center at the school.
BCSO Sheriff McClanahan asked that those who call 911 only do so in the case of an emergency.
As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities were asking people to refrain from sending unsolicited donations until a full stock of the situation can be taken.
The county issued a boil water notice for the Clifton Fork and Whitewood communities that will remain in effect until further notice. As of Thursday morning, power has been restored to all of the Vansant area, according to McClanahan. However, it will be “a period of time,” he said, before power is restored to areas that saw the most damage, such as Oakwood.
Responding agencies include the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, multiple swift water rescue crews, fire departments and EMS agencies from the county and throughout the region.
The Bristol, Virginia Fire Department revealed the agency received a call to assist just before midnight Tuesday, and six crew members with water rescue training arrived at 2 a.m. Wednesday. By Wednesday afternoon, the agency released it has helped 30 people evacuate their homes. The team expects to remain in the area throughout the night.
On Thursday morning, however, the Bristol, Virginia Fire Department was seen at the command post, and teams from as far away as Roanoke and Lynchburg joined.
This is a developing story. Stay updated on-air and online at WJHL.com.