CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says 14 people have died during devastating flooding in the state.
Tomblin made the announcement Friday during a news conference. He says the damage is widespread and devastating. The governor says search and rescue missions are still a top priority.
A storm system dumped 9 inches of rain on parts of West Virginia and trapped 500 people in a shopping center when a bridge washed out. Dozens of other people had to be plucked off rooftops or rescued as waters quickly rose during the deluge.
Early reports indicate more than 100 homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed and about 66,000 homes and businesses are still without power.
Tomblin 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.
The governor says he had planned to fly around the hart-hit areas, but wasn’t able to because all state aircraft used for rescues.