At Least 2 Dead, State of Emergency Expanded to 44 Counties As Flooding Encroaches West Virginia

The Weather Channel

At least two people are dead as significant flooding inundated several West Virginia counties Thursday night. In addition, a state of emergency was expanded to 44 of those counties impacted.

Eight-year-old Emanual Williams died at a West Virginia hospital Thursday after he slipped into a creek and was swept away by raging waters, The Intelligencer reported.   

West Virginia Metro News reported an elderly man drowned in floodwaters around 8:30 p.m. Thrusday night in Kanawha County.

The frightening news comes one day after at least 8 confirmed tornadoes touched down in Ohio and northern Illinois Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said. Tens of thousands were left without power across the Midwest as a derecho swept through the region, leaving a trail of damage from Illinois all the way to Virginia.

Here are the latest impacts from these storms:

West Virginia

Flooding claimed two lives in West Virginia: 8-year-old Emanual Williams, who was swept away by a raging creek Thursday afternoon and an elderly gentleman who drowned in Kanawha County later in the evening.

Gov. Early Ray Tomblin expanded a state of emergency to 44 counties as heavy rain continued into the evening, WSAZ.com reported.

White Sulphur Springs residents were left reeling as heavy flooding encroached the city, West Virginia Metro News says. One resident posted a heart-wrenching update to Facebook, saying, “Please pray for our neighbors. They are trapped in their attic with small children. Our other neighbors are on their kitchen counter..it has washed away the barn..cars..buildings. .flooded houses..My sister has lost her pets…it is devestating…please pray for our small town..’

A toddler is missing in Ravenwood after being swept away by fast-moving floodwaters, WOWK-TV reported. The child was reportedly playing in the water when he was swept away, the report added, and rescue boats have been deployed to look for the young boy.

“We surely need your prayers, because there’s a lot of people hurting right now,” Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Resort, said during an interview on The Weather Channel.

In the town of Richwood, where a flash flood emergency was declared, homes and buildings were evacuated as water levels rose quickly Thursday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. Mayor Robert Johnson said the damage will be extensive in the wake of the storms.

“We pretty much live in a bowl, and the bowl filled with water, certainly,” he told the AP.

Several water rescues were underway Thursday near Jordan Creek, WSAZ reports. High water covering roads was reported in Marmet, Belle and Chesapeake.

The town of Clendenin also experienced severe flooding, and according to local reports, the town was only able to be reached by helicopter Thursday night.

High winds downed a tree onto a home with a person still inside in Charleston, WSAZ.com also said. The occupant was uninjured and the tree damaged the back of the residence. Wind damage was also reported near a Cabela’s retail store. One of the signs was blown down.

Just north of Charleston, a landslide occurred along Interstate 79, and a tractor trailer was reportedly damaged in the incident, according to the NWS.

Virginia

Residents of downtown Covington, as well as low-lying areas of the city, were evacuated Thursday night to established shelters, WDBJ reported. Evacuations were ordered as the Jackson River neared record levels.

Roads were closed and several house fires were sparked by lightning as the storms pushed through the Commonwealth.

According to the Roanoke Times, a handful of roads were closed by flooding in Covington and Alleghany County, and a few other roads were shut down in Botetourt County, the state Department of Transportation said.

House fires were blamed on lightning in Read Mountain, Goode and Thaxton, the report added. No injuries were reported in those incidents.

Illinois

As many as 18 reports of tornadoes came in Wednesday night, and NWS survey crews headed out Thursday morning to conduct damage surveys along 3 separate supercell paths.

An EF2 tornado was spotted in Marseilles-Seneca Wednesday night, according to NWS. Two separate EF1 tornadoes were also reported that same night in West Brooklyn and Cissna Park.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m. CDT, a large tornado moved into the town of Pontiac, Illinois. The tornado, which the NWS has preliminarily rated an EF2, was left an 11-mile damage path.

The tornado ripped off the side of a Shell gas station, tossing mangled metal and wood around, ABC7 reports. Some pieces shattered the windows of parked cars. The glass hit one person, but the injuries were minor.

(MORE: Severe Weather Expected Again This Weekend)

The driver of a semi parked at the gas station suffered a dislocated shoulder after the winds blew his truck over into its side, the station said.

Storm spotters reported seeing power flashes before much of the town of 12,000 lost power, and chasers who followed the storm into Pontiac saw destroyed mobile homes at a trailer park. According to the fire chief in Pontiac, two children inside a mobile home suffered minor injuries, WGN reports.

North of Ottawa, an EF0 tornado was confirmed by the NWS. The twister had maximum winds of 90 mph, measured 100 yards wide and stayed on the ground for 4.5 miles.

In the town of Seneca, fire crews were responding to reports of people trapped in a home, but nobody was believed to be injured inside the dwelling.

Area homeowner Jeff Maierhofer told ABC7 he and his family huddled together with several neighbors in the basement when the storm hit his farm, which dates back to the 1800’s.

“There’s lots of extensive damage to the farm. We’re not really sure about the house. There’s no power up there right now. Haven’t really been home because there’s powerlines around there,” he said. “Everybody’s fine. All the neighbors are fine. Everybody checked in with everybody. But there’s a lot of damage.”

The night began when a tornado was observed briefly near Amboy by trained spotters at about 7:15 p.m. CDT Wednesday night. The second tornado was reportedly in progress just minutes later in Lee County, near the towns of Paw Paw and Compton. The NWS reported tree damage in Compton.

Hannah Eason, who lives in Morris, drove through the storm, ABC 7 reports.

“I was thinking I was going to die. I was really thinking that something bad was going to happen. It was just bad. I was about to cry,” Eason said. “The rain… I couldn’t even see when I was driving, the road.

A home in the north Chicago suburb of Evanston is “uninhabitable” after a lightning strike sparked a fire Wednesday evening, CBS Chicago reported. A neighbor called to report the two-story home had been struck by lightning and fire crews arrived to find smoke coming from the eaves with the attic on fire, the fire department said. No injuries were reported.

The storms then marched toward Chicago, and at Soldier Field, some 50,000 soccer fans attending the Copa America semifinal game between Chile and Colombia were asked to clear the stands and seek shelter Wednesday evening, according to the AP. The teams were allowed to play the first half, but storms moved in at halftime, forcing stadium officials to activate the storm safety plan.

Localized flooding was also reported in some areas. In the town of Palatine, Illinois, low-lying areas took on water quickly.

Indiana

Severe storms rolled eastward through Indiana late Wednesday evening, damaging several buildings, a radio tower and downing numerous trees across the state.

A tornado spotted 5 miles south-southeast of Huntington was rated EF1 by NWS. It was quickly followed by another tornado, rated an EF2, which traveled in the same area just minutes later. The second tornado crossed the path of the first, according to the damage survey.

A large outbuilding on a farm near Brookston containing several tractors, a combine and other farm equipment had its roof completely ripped off, WTHR reports.

The high winds during knocked over a radio tower in Russiaville early Thursday morning.

“Just all of a sudden it was raining sideways and blowing so hard, you couldn’t see in front of your face,” Russiaville Town Marshal Roger Waddell told Fox 59. “We heard tree limbs snapping and I heard some stuff blowing around.”

The tower, which was mostly used for a broadband internet service, landed on some power lines and was resting on the roof of an RV business.

Steve Jones, the owner of State of the Art Communication, told WISH local ambulances also used the tower for communication, and he is working on a plan to get it fixed.

The Indianapolis Power & Light Company reported Thursday morning that more than 10,000 customers were without power in the Indianapolis area.

Ohio 

The NWS has confirmed a pair of EF0 tornadoes hit the Buckeye State during the severe weather outbreak, with damage surveys ongoing. One tornado was confirmed in Fayette County, east of the Washington courthouse, while the other occurred in Clinton County, southwest of Wilmington.

No injuries have been reported, WLWT.com said, but photos and video from the area showed a variety of damage to trees, wires and some buildings between Waynesville and Wilmington. Trees were also reported down on houses in West College Corner, Madison Township and Hyde Park.

Around 34,000 Duke Energy customers were left without power at one point during the storm.

https://weather.com/storms/tornado/news/severe-weather-outbreak-flooding-midwest-ohio-valley-latest-news

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