Two flood events Tuesday night hundreds of miles apart have left communities reeling from the damage, with dozens of people reported missing. Meanwhile, thousands were in the dark and a house was cut in two in Maryland…
Officials make progress in search for missing persons in flood-torn Virginia
Officials in southwestern Virginia said at least 27 out of a reported 44 missing people have been contacted after torrential rain flooded rural communities in Buchanan County in the middle of the night between July 12 and 13.
As cleanup efforts continue and floodwaters recede in flood-ravaged southwestern Virginia, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday morning it had made contact with 27 of the reported 44 missing persons.
The sheriff’s office credited help from the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and many other local and state resources to help track down the whereabouts of the missing individuals.
The authorities continue to work to track down the remaining 17 missing persons including scouring areas that were impassable on Wednesday due to the flooding. Officials said the floodwaters were receding and the county is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to remove debris and mud from the roadways to get them re-opened and assess damage to residences.
“There are still no reports of fatalities or injuries related to the ongoing flooding,” the sheriff’s office stated.
Virginia and parts of neighboring Tennessee were hit hard by flooding rain Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The flooding forced the evacuation of 400 people from a campground in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Law enforcement officials had expected the number of missing people to go down once rescue teams were able to get out and cover more ground.
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Eric Breeding told reporters that the number of unaccounted-for persons is based on relatives attempting to contact an area resident where phone service may be limited or cut off completely.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in trouble or in danger,” Breeding stated. “They’re just letting us know that we need to check on these people.”
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management was assisting local crews on Wednesday, providing support after heavy rains Tuesday night caused flooding and power outages in the Buchanan County area. The county, on the western border of the state, had radar estimates show that more than 6 inches of rain likely fell in the area during the middle of Tuesday night.
— Virginia Department of Emergency Management (@VDEM) July 13, 2022
While there is no specific number of homes reported to be damaged, VDEM stated that a “significant” number of homes were damaged as a result of the floods, likely topping 100 in all.
As a result of the heavy rainfall and severe flooding, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency to assist with response and recovery efforts in Buchanan County.
There is not a specific number of homes that are damaged at this time in Buchanan County, but @VDEM says a ‘significant’ number of homes area damaged, likely more than 100 homes.
— Olivia Bailey (@OliviaBaileyTV) July 13, 2022
The closest U.S. Geological Survey river gauge to Pilgrim’s Knob is located 17 miles away in Litwar, West Virginia, on the Tug Fork River. That instrument recorded a rise in water levels of 2 feet within an hour during the flooding.
“I want to thank our first responders and the personnel on the ground for providing assistance with our ongoing operations in Buchanan County,” Youngkin said in a press release. “While rescue and recovery continues, please join me in prayer as we lift up our fellow Virginians impacted by this tragedy.”
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 southwest Virginia that happened overnight pic.twitter.com/Qp1yxZlQPS
— Brandon Jarvis (@Jaaavis) July 13, 2022
Virginia’s southwestern neighbor also experienced hardship due to flash floods late Tuesday. Around 11 p.m. EDT, the Gatlinburg Fire Department in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was alerted to a call that 14 people were trapped at the local Greenbrier Campground, with first responders at the scene stating to WVLT News that water had risen to the height of the campground’s picnic tables. The flash flooding at the campground led to the rescue of the trapped individuals, as well as the evacuation of more than 400 people from the site.
Local officials stated that there are no reports of injuries or stranded individuals as of Wednesday. Affected residents who needed shelter into Wednesday morning were set up with a temporary evacuation safe spot at nearby Pittman Center Elementary School, where the American Red Cross responded to those in need. A total of 69 individuals took shelter at the school overnight.
The Greenbrier Campground is located approximately 5 miles northeast of Gatlinburg and about 30 miles southeast of Knoxville. The campground is also roughly 10 miles away from Dollywood, the theme park partially owned by legendary musician Dolly Parton. Elsewhere in Gatlinburg, previously calm streams were seen roaring past residents Tuesday night.
With limited river gauges in the area, the closest reading of flooding levels was taken 12 miles downstream of the campground near Sevierville, Tennessee. The USGS river gauge noted that the river rose over 4 feet within 30 minutes and over 6 feet within 2 hours.
— Beth Emerson (@BethEmerson41) July 13, 2022
Observations on top of nearby Mount Leconte reported 3 inches of rain Tuesday, while radar estimates indicate that twice that amount may have fallen in a nearby area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park drains into the valley where the Greenbrier Campground is located on the West Prong Little Pigeon River.
Powerful storm hits Maryland
Immense damage came Tuesday to the city of College Park, Maryland, as the result of severe storms in the area. College Park is home to the University of Maryland and the force of the storms jolted students and residents alike and led to the hospitalization of at least one student.
Major damage was rampant throughout College Park as the result of a severe storm path that extended from Tennessee to Maine Tuesday. Downed trees were seen blocking roads, prompting the city officials to tell travelers “stay away from the area.” Street crews were seen working to clean up debris from the fallen trees in part of the area.
In Berwyn Heights, a suburb of College Park, footage shared on social media showed intense hail which added to the local misery.
This is absolutely unreal, it appears the storm split this home in two in College Park. I talked to two University of Maryland students who live here, they say their roommate was taken to the hospital but they think he’s going to be OK. He was inside and they were not. pic.twitter.com/deOVYNWS8x
— Tom Roussey (@tomroussey7news) July 13, 2022
Power outages caused significant disruptions for College Park residents as well as those throughout Maryland. As of 9 p.m. EDT, there were 183,323 outages tracked in Maryland, per PowerOutage.US. In Prince George’s County, where College Park lies, there were 44,120 customers without power Tuesday evening, a higher number of outages than in heavily populated Baltimore County (38,056 outages).
The peak for outages in Baltimore County took place around 5:45 p.m. EDT, with just under 98,000 customers going without power in the early evening.
There is major damage throughout the City incl UMD due to the recent storm. There are power outages throughout the area; many major trees are down and blocking roads. Stay away from the area. Report any suspected gas leaks to 9-1-1. Report any downed wires to Pepco: 877-737-2662
— City of College Park (@CollegePark_MD) July 12, 2022
Heavy wind gusts continued to blast the Northeast throughout the day, including north of Maryland. One wind gust of 87 mph was reported in the early evening, just west of Mount Pleasant, Delaware.
Northeast airports also faced flight delays and cancellations, with more than 50 cancellations already reported Tuesday at New York City’s LaGuardia. Reagan National Airport in the Washington, D.C., metro area had a sighting of hail in the early evening hours.
— Laudato Si Was 100% Correct ??♻️?✊??? ↙️↙️↙️ (@EricPavlat) July 12, 2022
Wednesday will still be hot in Maryland for any cleanup that needs to be done. Any remaining power outages will also make it difficult for residents to stay cool without air conditioning.
Showers and thunderstorms should remain just south of Maryland through the end of the week, and temperatures will lower due to cooler air ushered in by a dip in the jet stream. Temperatures and humidity should return to more seasonable levels for Maryland and most of the Northeast. [Accuweather 1, Accuweather2]
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