UPDATE 11:15 a.m. (7/15/22): After traveling to Buchanan County to help with search, rescue, and cleanup efforts following flash flooding and landslides, first responders from across southwest and central Virginia are returning home.
The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department announced during the afternoon hours on Thursday, July 14 that its swift water rescue team had completed its assignment in Buchanan County and was released to return home.
“We are thankful for all the support shown to us and really happy there were no injuries or fatalities!!” the department wrote on Facebook.
Later that day, first responders from Bedford County and Lynchburg made similar announcements.
Bedford County Special Operations Command reported Thursday evening that its resources had gotten back to Bedford County after completing its tasks in Buchanan County and searching several areas alongside members of the Bristol Fire Department.
Lynchburg city officials say that members of the Lynchburg Fire Department’s urban search and rescue team have returned to the Hill City following their deployment to Buchanan County to assist with the “catastrophic damages.”
According to Lynchburg Fire Special Operations, 12 members of its technical rescue team were assigned to do wide area searches and assess the damages to homes and vehicles in the Pilgrims Knob community. They also searched for submerged vehicles along the banks of the Dismal River, which led to the discovery of multiple vehicles, but no victims.
The team was assigned to perform wide area searches and assess damages to homes and vehicles. The team also assisted in the search of submerged vehicles along the banks of the Dismal River. Multiple vehicles were located; however, no victims were found.
However, Pulaski County Emergency Management posted on Facebook just before 10:30 p.m. on Thursday that local personnel serving on the Southwest Virginia Incident Management Team were still in Buchanan County.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management says any physical donations for the flood victims should be brought to Twin Valley Elementary School at 9017 Riverside Drive in Oakwood. While clothing donations are not being accepted at this time, the following items are definitely needed:
- Trash bags
- Rubber boots
- Cleaning supplies
You are asked to send itemized lists of what donations are being delivered in the trucks.
If you want to make any monetary donations to support relief efforts for those impacted by the Buchanan County flooding, you are asked to do so on United Way of Southwest Virginia’s website.
UPDATE 1:35 p.m. (7/14/22): On Thursday afternoon, Buchanan County officials announced that everybody who was previously unaccounted for following the devastating floods has been located. In addition, there are no deaths directly related to the flooding.
This news comes after heavy rainfall on Tuesday, July 12 led to severe flash flooding that affected numerous roads and multiple houses along the riverbanks in Buchanan County, with deputies and first responders even rescuing people who were stuck in flooded cars and in their homes, the American Red Cross says.
The American Red Cross told WFXR News that approximately 800 people were without power and water around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 14 — which is down from 4,000 on Wednesday, July 13 — and that landline and cell phone services were limited.
According to the organization, families from approximately 100 homes over an eight-mile radius were displaced.
The American Red Cross is working with our partners to assist in the devastation. Southwest Territory volunteers are prepositioning a shelter trailer, snacks/water, breakfast items, and shelf stable meals to support families displaced. More information to come as the recovery progresses.American Red Cross spokesperson
Meanwhile, volunteers and staff from God’s Pit Crew — which is based in Danville — are deploying to Buchanan County to help those affected by the floods, according to the organization.
The nonprofit says its immediate response team will travel to the area and stay through Tuesday, July 26 to help community members. Volunteers will cut trees, remove debris, and muck out and dry flooded homes.
The organization is also planning sending down a tractor-trailer full of emergency supplies — such as water, Gatorade, food, and snacks — as well as Blessing Buckets, which are filled with food, personal and hygiene items, and a Bible.
“Our hearts go out to those impacted by these terrible floods. There is so much destruction and many people need help,” said Brandon Nuckles, COO of God’s Pit Crew. “We are praying for them and are grateful to be able to respond with trained volunteers and supplies to serve them in their time of need.”
You can watch more of Thursday afternoon’s press conference from Buchanan County officials below:
UPDATE 11:05 a.m. (7/14/22): Authorities say that the number of people unaccounted for following the flash flooding in Buchanan County has dropped from 17 to three.
Law enforcement crews are currently working to find those remaining three individuals.
This news comes ahead of a press conference with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, and local first responders about the flooding.
In a previous update, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office told WFXR News there were an estimated 100 to 150 homes that had been flooded or washed away.
UPDATE 9:07 a.m. (7/14/22): After working through the night to find and reunite Buchanan County residents with their loved ones, authorities announced Thursday morning they have tracked down 27 of the 44 people who were previously unaccounted for.
As of 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 14, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office says deputies, state troopers, and rescue groups from across southwest and central Virginia are already working to contact the remaining 17 people.
Included among those rescue groups are members of the Forest Fire Department, the Stewartsville-Chamblissburg Volunteer Fire Department, and Smith Mountain Lake Fire Department, who are part of Bedford County Special Operations Command, according to Bedford County officials.
Officials say they are focusing around Big Branch Road, saying that crews were not able to reach that area on Wednesday, July 13 due to impassable roads and tremendous structural damage.
However, floodwaters are reportedly receding, allowing the county to work with VDOT crews to remove debris and mud from the roadways in order to reopen them, as well as assess the extent of the damage to the homes.
In the last update, authorities told WFXR News there were an estimated 100 to 150 homes that had been flooded or washed away.
At this time, the sheriff’s office says there are still no reports of deaths or injuries related to the ongoing flooding.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Travis Hackworth posted the following statement and photos on Facebook about the flooding in Buchanan County:
Please pray for the residents of Buchanan County. It is absolutely devastating the damage that has been done by the torrential rain and flooding. Also keep in prayer all of the first responders, law enforcement, and state and local authorities assisting with the crisis.
Reunification Center and Emergency Shelter at Twin Valley Elem/Middle School at 9017 Riverside Drive, Oakwood, VA.
Missing person and welfare check hotline: 1-833-748-1424
The three cellular carriers that serve Buchanan County are en route with temporary assets to restore the communications network.Facebook post by state Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-38th District) on July 13, 2022
UPDATE 7:21 a.m. (7/14/22): As of Wednesday night, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office says authorities are still working to track down residents impacted by this week’s flash flooding, including the 44 people whose families have not been able to contact them.
According to officials, the current lack of cell service and power, as well as the washed out roads, have made it hard for people to contact loved ones, so you are urged to call 1-833-748-1424 to report anyone who is still unaccounted for due to the flooding. That way, their name can be added to law enforcement’s search list.
“The sheriff’s office began getting reports of flash flooding around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night (July 12, 2022) as the storm dumped several inches of rain in a very short period of time. The calls quickly picked up with more reports of downed trees, flooded roads, and flooded residences across various regions of the county,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement sent to WFXR News by Virginia State Police. “The most impacted communities have been Whitewood and Pilgrims Knob, due to the Dismal Creek overflowing its banks.”
As of this writing, authorities say there are no reports of deaths or injuries connected with the flooding, but an estimated 100 to 150 homes have been flooded or washed away.
A shelter has reportedly been set up at Twin Valley Middle School in Oakwood for residents looking for a place to stay and get food.
Virginia State Police says its swift water rescue teams, aviation unit, and troopers and special agents in the area have gone to Buchanan County to help the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management respond to calls for service, rescue missions, traffic control, and detours related to the severe flooding.
There are also a number of first responders from Bedford County, Lynchburg, Botetourt County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, Pulaski County, and Montgomery County who are providing assistance to crews in Buchanan County, as well as members of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
United Way of Southwest Virginia has already set up a relief fund to help those impacted by the Buchanan County flooding. You can make a donation to that fund on the charity’s website.
UPDATE 4:05 p.m.: Gov. Glenn Youngkin has declared a state of emergency in response to the severe flooding in southwest Virginia on Wednesday.
Heavy rainfall and severe weather began hitting the southwest region on Tuesday, July 12, and continued overnight into the early morning of Wednesday, July 13. The rainfall caused flash flooding, power outages, impacts to roads and infrastructures, as well as resource and operational challenges to Buchanan County, officials say.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that another flood has impacted a community still recovering from last year’s flood,” said Youngkin. “ 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.”
Declaring a state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to deploy people and equipment in response and recovery efforts.
This news comes less than a year after former Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency for Buchanan County following severe weather than caused devastating rainfall and mudslides in the region, destroying more than 20 homes and leading to one death.
Last summer’s flooding in Buchanan County also drew first responders from the Roanoke Valley and central Virginia to help with search and rescue operations.
BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — First responders from across southwest and central Virginia are heading to Buchanan County to provide assistance after heavy rains led to flooding damage and power outages.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office posted the following statement about the flooding in the county on Wednesday, July 13:
Gov. Glenn Youngkin posted a statement on Facebook in response to the Buchanan County flooding:
I am deeply saddened at the devastating news of flooding in Buchanan County. We are making every resource available to help those impacted. While rescue and recovery operations continue, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.Facebook post by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on July 13, 2022
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), its teams are in Buchanan County, ready to provide any necessary support as they help local crews following the heavy rains on Tuesday, July 12.
The Lynchburg Fire Department says its Urban Search and Rescue Team was deployed to Grundy — at the request of the VDEM — to help with water rescues and wide-area search efforts following the flooding.
“While there is currently no time frame for the return of the fire department team, the public should know that the fire department resources and response locally will not be affected during this time,” the Lynchburg Fire Department posted on Facebook Wednesday, along with a video of crews heading out.
Bedford County Special Operations Command also announced Wednesday morning that its swift water team was on the way to Grundy.
“The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office says the damage is ‘substantial’ and they are working on setting up a hotline for local residents to report any missing loved ones,” Bedford County officials wrote on Facebook. “We are thinking of our local first responders and those in Buchanan County as rescue operations continue today.”
According to the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department, five members of its swift water rescue team headed to Vansant to help with the ongoing flooding situation in Buchanan County as part of the regional technical rescue team.
Fire officials say Roanoke Fire-EMS and the Salem Fire and EMS Department are also sending people and equipment to Buchanan County.
In addition, the Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS is helping with the response to Buchanan County’s severe flooding and landslides, with teams deployed across multiple communities searching for missing or stranded residents. Numerous homes have reportedly been impacted, as well as parts of the road network and utility infrastructure.
As part of the Southwest Virginia Incident Management Team, Botetourt County Emergency Manager Daniel Murray and Deputy Chief Jeff Powell are reportedly assisting with local response and recovery coordination.
Over in the New River Valley, Pulaski County Emergency Management and the Pulaski Fire Department have reportedly sent personnel to Buchanan County as part of the Southwest Virginia Incident Management Team.
Blacksburg Technical Rescue says several members of the Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad are also responding to the incident in Buchanan County.