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Hundreds of Thousands Without Power, Boy Swept Away in W.Va. Flooding

Strong Storm Sweeps Burning House Down Creek 0:38

A toddler was missing and hundreds of thousands of customers were without power Thursday night after flash floods washed across West Virginia, authorities said.

As more storms rolled in, rescue crews in Ravenswood, West Virginia, suspended their search for the 2- to 4-year-old boy who was swept away by swift waters, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department told NBC News.

"There have been no sightings of the missing child at this time," the sheriff's office said late Thursday night.

Forty-four counties, primarily in the southeast part of West Virginia, were under a state of emergency Thursday night because of flood waters, the state emergency agency said. Electric utilities reported that almost 500,000 customers were without power.

IMAGE: West Virginia flooding
Flood waters drenched a home Thursday in Cottle, West Virginia. Monica Boggs Cox

"We surely need your prayers, because there's a lot of people hurting right now," Jim Justice, owner of the luxury Greenbrier Resort, told The Weather Channel.

Kanawha County was especially hard hit. NBC station WSAZ of Huntington reported Thursday night that dozens of water rescues were under way in and around Clendenin, where numerous roads were closed by racing flood waters.

"There's been a ton of areas that have been hit hard" by as much as 7 inches of rain, said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Thousands were also without power Thursday in neighboring Virginia, utilities said.

Record floods were forecast overnight Thursday along the Jackson River in the areas of Covington and Alleghany County. The state Department of Emergency Management urged residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

"It's really bad. There's a raging river," Alleghany County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Matt Bowser said. "There's 500-gallon oil tanks and trash cans and gas cans and tree trunks floating down the river where people's backyards are. You can see people in the second-story windows waiting to be evacuated."

The fierce rain was caused by a "derecho" weather system that spun off at least eight confirmed tornadoes Wednesday in Ohio and northern Illinois on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Fierce Storms Hit Ohio 0:48

The NWS said late Thursday that the system was dissipating rapidly and that many watches and advisories had been canceled.