RAVENSWOOD, W.Va., June 25 (UPI) — At least 26 people are dead and hundreds of people remain stranded in massive flooding in West Virginia, after Kanawha County Sheriff’s office reported three deaths on Friday night.
The bodies of a man and two females were discovered in the Elkview area, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. It is presumed that all three drowned as a result of the flooding.
The man’s body was found in a home in the Clendenin area and the caller speculated he may have been electrocuted, but this was not confirmed by first responders. The two female bodies were discovered in a home on Riverview Road along the Elk River.
Police did not release the names of the victims, as the were unable to confirm that family members had been notified of the deaths.
In addition to reports that a 4-year-old and 8-year-old boy died during the flood in Jackson and Ohio counties respectively, NBC reports that in Kanawha County an elderly man was killed in the flood waters and a woman was washed away in her vehicle in separate incidents.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin activated 200 National Guard members to assist search and rescue centers in eight counties and is authorized to deploy at least 300 more. He also declared a state of emergency for 44 of the state’s 55 counties.
“Together with the National Guard, our first responders, local emergency management officials and firefighters from across the state have been working around the clock, and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts.” Tomblin said.
About 500 people were stranded at the Elkview Crossings Mall in Kanawha County for at least 24 hours starting on Thursday after a rain washed out a nearby bridge. Crews managed to create a temporary roadway out of gravel and some evacuated the area, while others decided to stay.
The flooding also damaged homes throughout the state including carrying a burning home down Howard Creek in White Sulphur Springs near the southern part of the state.
Gas lines in White Sulphur Springs were shut off as a precaution and the flooding left nearly 20,000 people without power, as of Friday night.
Tomblin pleaded residents of the state to band together as the work to make it through the historic flooding.
“Please continue to work together and support each other as West Virginians always do,” he said.