Update, 02 September 2021
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office announced late on 01 September that search crews have located the first confirmed fatality as a result of the flooding that occurred in the Guesses Fork area of Hurley.
Residents in Hurley are facing long periods without power and water. Officials are estimating at least 30 days for power to be restored, and estimated 1 year for public water to be restored.
“Residents in this area need to begin planning for long term with these details in mind. The Red Cross is a resource to help those who need assistance in addressing their needs,” Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said.
Further heavy rainfall was reported over the last 24 hours but had not caused any damage. Clean up operations are ongoing and the Sheriff’s Office asked unauthorized people to stay away from the affected areas.
Original report, 01 September 2021
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia on 31 August after rain brought by the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused devastating floods and mudslides with more severe weather forecast.
Raging flash floods and mudslides swept through parts of Buchanan County, Virginia, on 31 August 2021. More than 20 homes were destroyed in the small community of Hurley situated in a valley along Knox Creek. Around 60 people were evacuated with some taking shelter in a local church. Four people were initially reported unaccounted for but 3 have since been located. Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said as of 31 August that one person was still missing.
“This afternoon, several inches of rainfall led to flooding and landslides that caused extensive damage and restricted access to homes in the Hurley Area,” Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said.
“Specialized teams from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management are on scene working alongside the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and numerous fire, rescue and search agencies from across the state and rescue teams from West Virginia. Further expected rains tonight and tomorrow will continue to make the situation fluid and challenging. Damage assessments will commence tomorrow morning with ground and aerial teams. Residents are encouraged to avoid the area to allow crews to continue these response operations.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to respond to impacts from ex-Hurricane Ida, now a Tropical Depression.
In a statement, the governor said heavy rainfall has already caused flash flooding in Buchanan County, with potential for additional flooding, downed trees, electrical outages, and impacts to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Impacts are expected to be felt particularly along the I-81 and I-66 corridors. In addition to the flood threat, there is also a risk of tornadoes.
“My thoughts are with those across the country impacted by this devastating storm,” said Governor Northam. “While we’re fortunate in Virginia to have avoided the hurricane itself, heavy rainfall is expected to cause additional flash flooding and dangerous conditions in portions of the Commonwealth. I’m grateful to the first responders and rescue crews currently on the ground, and I urge Virginians in these regions to stay alert.”
A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and to deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts. The declaration also allows officials from Virginia to coordinate planning and evacuation resources with our state and local partners.