Update, 15 July 2022:
Virginia Department of Emergency Management confirmed that all 44 people have since been accounted for in the impacted area. No fatalities were reported as a result of the flooding incident. One person was injured by a snake bite.
Update: Per #BuchananCounty Sheriff's Office: All people have been accounted for in the impacted area. No fatalities during the flooding incident. Crews are continuing wellness checks on an as-needed basis. Donation information can be found below. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/KATFRPXN9f
— Virginia Department of Emergency Management (@VDEM) July 14, 2022
Original report, 14 July 2022:
Officials in Virginia, USA report over 40 people unaccounted for after flash floods swept through parts of Buchanan County on 13 July 2022.
Meanwhile 14 people were rescued after flash floods in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Flash Floods in Buchanan County, Virginia
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to assist with response and recovery efforts due to impacts from heavy rainfall and severe flooding.
In a statement the governor said the severe weather hit parts of the Southwest region of the state on 12 July and continued into the early morning hours of 13 July. Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Buchanan County, along with power outages, impacts to roads and other infrastructure, and significant resource and operational challenges.
Raging flash floods ripped through a valley in the rural county of Buchanan. Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said the concentration of the flooding is in the Dismal River Road area which runs alongside Dismal Creek. Affected communities include Patterson, Pilgrims Knob, Whitewood and Jewell Valley. Over 100 homes are thought to have been damaged, with some of them ripped from their foundations. Local observers said flood water was up to 11 feet (3.4 metres) deep. All roads were closed in the area.
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said that, as of the evening 13 July, 44 people were unaccounted for, noting that “this number reflects the number of people that has been reported to law enforcement by loved ones and family members as being unable to make contact with them. This does not mean the person is missing, it means we are attempting to reach and locate the person and check on their wellbeing. At this time we have no confirmed fatalities.”
Teams from Virginia Department of Emergency Management, state police and multiple fire departments have been deployed to the area to assist in flood relief and search and rescue operations.
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said if you have a loved one who is unaccounted for who may have been affected by the flooding, please call 1-833-748-1424 to add them to the search list.
Governor Youngkin said, “We are deeply saddened to learn that another flood has impacted a community still recovering from last year’s flood,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “In the wake of the devastation, I want Virginians in Buchanan County to know that we are making every resource available to help those impacted by this storm. 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. While rescue and recovery continues, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.”
Buchanan County saw severe flooding after heavy rainfall in the wake of Hurricane Ida in late August to early September 2021.
Floods in Tennessee
Flash floods swept through a campground near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA, overnight 12 to 13 July 2022. Gatlinburg is about 220 km / 140 miles south west of Buchanan County, Virginia.
Local media reported 14 people were trapped and later rescued from the Greenbrier Campground. Flash floods also swept away vehicles in the Pittman Center area of Sevier County. Sevier County Emergency Management Agency said flooding was a result of the overflowing middle prong of the Little Pigeon River. A total of 400 people were evacuated.
Drinking water supply has been interrupted for residents of the City of Sevierville.