Crews restore power after Mid-Atlantic storms

/ Source: The Associated Press

Crews worked Thursday to restore power and clear roads cut by flash floods and landslides after waves of heavy storms crossed from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic, leaving one West Virginia county without its only grocery stores and gas stations.

The National Weather Service warned that new storms in Kansas could produce large tornadoes before nightfall Thursday and were already unleashing large hail, strong winds and heavy rain in northwest Kansas.

Three deaths were blamed on the storms as they barreled across the country.

In West Virginia, where Gov. Joe Manchin declared a state of emergency in 15 of the state's 55 counties, storms dumped several inches of rain and knocked out power to nearly 67,000 customers at the peak of the storm. Thousands were still without electricity on Thursday morning.

Fifteen homes and 15 businesses in Gilmer County — including the county's only two grocery stores and four gas stations — were flooded Thursday morning by the Little Kanawha River, county emergency services Director Ed Messenger said.

"It's the biggest flood we've had since 1985," he said. "We're kinda in a bind as far as groceries and gas. We can't get through town anyway and it probably won't recede until 6 or 7 o'clock tonight."

The body of a man who was swept away while trying to drive his truck through high water in Marion County was recovered Wednesday. Authorities identified the man as Shane Efaw, 20, of White Hall.

Tens of thousands of people in the Washington area remained without electricity Thursday, a day after violent storms downed tree limbs and power lines. One person was killed.

Huu Dai Pham, 57, of Delaware, died Wednesday afternoon when a large tree crushed a sport utility vehicle in Annandale, Va., Fairfax County police said. The driver was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

D.C. outages could last days
Utility officials warned some outages in the Washington area could last for several days because of the severity of the damage.

In Dunn Loring, Va., the roof was blown off a house and a tree fell on it, Fairfax County fire department spokesman Lt. Raul Castillo said. High winds were also blamed for the collapse of a crane at a steel mill site near Baltimore. No one was injured.

Funnel clouds were reported in other parts of the region.

The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., had not confirmed whether any tornadoes touched down, said meteorologist Brandon Peloquin. He said teams would likely go out later to assess the damage.

In storm-weary central Indiana, state police said a woman died Wednesday morning when she drove her car into rushing flood waters. A wave of thunderstorms that began Tuesday caused widespread flash flooding, with 5 inches of rain reported overnight in some areas.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and other officials planned to tour parts of central Indiana Thursday to look at damage, including an Indiana National Guard camp where a tornado hit Tuesday night but skipped over barracks full of sleeping soldiers. The Guard said two soldiers suffered minor injuries as they sought shelter from the twister.

Across Indiana, one person died Wednesday driving into floodwaters and at least 10 were injured because of the storms.

Impaled by tree limb
Residents were cleaning up in tiny Moscow, Ind., a community of about 80 residents 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis battered Tuesday by a tornado that destroyed one house, damaged four or five others and dumped a historic covered bridge into a river. State officials said another house was destroyed in Greene County, and aerial coverage showed some rural farm houses had been leveled.

Brandy Runnerbohn, right, Jeannette Runnerbohn, left, and Elizabeth Beville rescue a cat found in the wreckage of a home destroyed in a storm in Moscow, Ind., Wednesday, June 4, 2008. A 66-year-old women was seriously injured in the home. Michael Conroy / AP

One woman was in critical condition after being impaled in the upper chest by a 3-inch-diameter tree limb, said Charles Smith, chief of the Posey Township Volunteer Fire Department, who helped rescue her from storm debris.

"Her house was gone, along the side of the river bank. There's nothing left of it," he said. "She didn't talk, but she was moaning."

In Ohio, weather service meteorologist Andy Hatzos said countless funnel clouds had been reported by early Wednesday, but no tornadoes had been confirmed.

Rain fell at a rate of 2 inches an hour in parts of Ohio.

Farther west, in Kansas City, Kan., a fuel distribution center partly reopened Wednesday, a day after a spectacular fire that started when a lightning strike ignited a storage tank. No one was hurt.