VANSANT, Va. (WJHL) — In a press conference two days after floods in Buchanan County swept away numerous houses and damaged dozens of others, Chief Deputy Eric Breeding announced everyone previously unaccounted for has been found. In addition, no deaths have been reported in connection to the floods.
“Zero people are unaccounted for in the impacted area,” Breeding said. “Crews were all night last night, and there were five crews out this morning reaching to those in the flooded area that were reported missing on our hotline yesterday, and they were all located.”
Breeding also announced no major injuries had occurred. He told media only one flood-related injury had been reported and said it was a snake bite.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management told WFXR’s sister station, WJHL, on Thursday, July 14 that the latest information indicates that around 400 structures were impacted. Damage assessment to find out how extensive that damage is will begin Friday, July 15.
For those who can make donations, Breeding said crews need general cleaning supplies, mops, buckets and shovels for the recovery and cleaning effort expected to last throughout the next several weeks along with damage assessment.
Monetary donations can be made to the United Way of Southwest Virginia.
People should stay away from the impacted areas, officials said. Three roads remain closed, including Route 628, Route 635 and Route 715. The latter — Route 715 — will not reopen for an extended time due to the damaged bridge.
The other two are expected to reopen within the next two days.
Breeding voiced officials’ intolerance of looting from damaged homes.
“Looting of any kind will not be tolerated,” he said. “The Virginia State Police and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling these areas regularly.”
Billy Chrimes with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management called the two-day rescue a “monumental search effort.”
“We covered approximately 30 road miles worth of area and about 400 structures,” Chrimes said. “That was made possible through the cooperative efforts of the local agencies here in Buchanan County as well as state agencies.”
Crews from as far away as the New River Valley, the Roanoke Valley, Bedford County, and Lynchburg assisted in the efforts. Several crews remain in the area to check vehicles in the river and similar operations that are expected to wrap up Thursday afternoon.
State Sen. Travis Hackworth, who represents southwest Virginia’s District 38, commented at Thursday’s briefing that the flooding was a solemn reminder of those seen in Buchanan County last August.
“It was like deja vu with Hurley last year,” he said. “A lot of the same people showed up, and they have just done an amazing job.”
The entire briefing can be viewed at the top of this story.