Flood-Stricken West Virginia Counties Get Federal Disaster Designation

Twenty-four people have died so far in devastating floods in West Virginia.

June 25, 2016, 6:06 PM

— -- Three West Virginia counties devastated by flooding will receive federal disaster assistance, the state's governor announced today as the death toll rose again.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide individual assistance, which includes emergency medical support, housing and addresses a number of immediate needs, to residents in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, West Virginia officials said today.

Authorities said this afternoon that the death toll from the flooding had risen to 24, after another body was recovered in Greenbrier County.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has called the flooding "among the worst in a century" for some parts of the state.

The body of a child who was swept away in fast-moving floodwaters was found Friday morning, about a mile from where he was last seen in Jackson County Thursday, the Ravenswood Fire Department said. Also among the dead are a man whose body was found in a home in the Clendenin area, and two females whose bodies were found in a home near Little Sandy Creek, with all three presumed to have drowned, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.

Initial reports showed 100 homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, the governor said.

But amid the tragedies were stories of heroic actions, Tomblin said: police rescued a woman trapped in her car with water rising to her neck, and some people risked their lives to rescue others who were stranded on rooftops and in rivers.

A state of emergency was declared in 44 of the state's 55 counties.

Some 200 National Guard members were helping Friday in eight counties, Tomblin said.

Rescue efforts were also underway Friday to save hundreds of people who became stranded inside a West Virginia mall overnight after a bridge connecting the shopping center to a main road collapsed and washed away, officials told ABC News.

About 500 people, including employees and customers, became got stuck inside the Crossings Mall in Elkview, about 12 miles from Charleston, around 4 p.m. Thursday, said Rick McElhaney, assistant deputy director with Metro 911 in Kanawha County.

First responders today walked some people from the mall around to a back road to board public transportation, an official with the Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center told ABC News Friday morning.

"I have a farm, I have got to get home," one woman said while walking down a steep hill behind the mall.

Crews were also working Friday to build a gravel road to get people out. But some people stayed at the mall because their homes were flooded.

The flooding attracted the attention of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is in Scotland. He tweeted, "Thoughts and prayers are with everyone in West Virginia- dealing with the devastating floods. #ImWithYou."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that the number of dead had risen to 26.

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