Some still unaccounted for after Buchanan County flooding; swiftwater teams respond

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 10:39 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 5:06 PM EDT
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BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE 7/14/22 11 a.m.: According to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, as of 10 a.m. Thursday search and rescue crews had located most of the people listed as unaccounted for. The number of those considered to be unaccounted for has decreased to just three people. Local and state police crews are working to find the remaining three.

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UPDATE 7/14/22: According to Virginia State Police, as of 6:30 a.m. Thursday (July 14, 2022), rescue teams made contact with 27 of the 44 reported unaccounted for since Wednesday. There are still no reports of fatalities or injuries related to the ongoing flooding.

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Crews with Bedford County’s Special Operations Command, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue and the Lynchburg Fire Department, as well as Roanoke Fire-EMS and the City of Salem, left for Buchanan County Wednesday to assist with heavy flooding.

According to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, the flooding was concentrated in the Dismal River Road area of Grundy. Roads in the immediate area are closed to everyone apart from rescue crews.

No deaths have been reported, but 44 people were unaccounted for at one point Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s office, meaning families have not been able to get in touch with them. The sheriff’s office reports making progress with locating these people, saying the current and temporary lack of cell service and power, plus flooded roads, have made it difficult for residents to contact loved ones. People are still encouraged to call 1-833-748-1424 to report someone who is still unaccounted for due to the flooding, so the sheriff’s office can add their names to the search list.

A shelter/reunification center has been set up at Twin Valley Elementary/Middle School in Oakwood, with the Virginia Department of Health on site to provide basic medical screening. The American Red Cross is also part of the flood response.

More than 100 homes were damaged or destroyed during flooding, according to estimates from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

More agencies are also responding. “United Way of Southwest Virginia will take an active relief role,” said Travis Staton, president and CEO. “The situation right now is still in the emergency response phase. We are in touch with Buchanan County authorities and will begin offering on-site assistance once they let us know how and where we can do the most good. Right now, the best thing we can do is to stay out of the way of the first responders and keep everyone affected by this in our thoughts and prayers.”

First responders urge people to call utility services with any questions about service restoration; don’t call 911.

The public is urged not to take unsolicited donations to the area; instead, make donations to reputable organizations of your choice. Click here to donate through United Way.

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