Death Toll Rises to 24 in Devastating West Virginia Floods

Image: Dennis Feazell
Lt. Dennis Feazell, of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, rows his boat as he and a co-worker search flooded homes in Rainelle, W. Va., on June 25.Steve Helber / AP

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By Phil Helsel and The Associated Press

The death toll in historic flooding that struck West Virginia Thursday and Friday has risen to 24, as authorities continue to go door-to-door in search of people still unaccounted for.

The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed one death in hard-hit Greenbrier County Saturday afternoon. Sixteen of the confirmed deaths happened in the county.

Six other deaths were reported in Kanawha, in addition to one each in Jackson and Ohio counties.

Related: Thousands Left Without Power After Deadly West Virginia Floods

The floodwaters swept away cars, cut power to thousands and trapped hundreds in a shopping center after 10 inches of rain pounded parts of the state in just 24 hours. It also submerged a golf course, forcing the PGA to cancel the upcoming Greenbrier Classic.

"Cancelling The Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a news release Saturday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

Lt. Dennis Feazell, of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, rows his boat as he and a co-worker search flooded homes in Rainelle, W. Va., on June 25.Steve Helber / AP

President Barack Obama called West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin from aboard Air Force One Saturday, the White House said.

"The President extended condolences on behalf of the entire country for the lives lost as a result of the severe storms and flooding in West Virginia,” the White House said in a statement.

Obama also pledged that the federal government would help the state. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing assistance.

Forty-four of West Virginia’s 55 counties were under a state of emergency. A federal disaster declaration was approved Saturday for three counties — Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, Tomblin said.

Photos: West Virginia Grapples With Damage From Deadly Floods

In Greenbrier County, water receded enough by Saturday that crews were able to reach areas that had been inaccessible, a West Virginia Homeland Security spokesman said. Searchers were knocking on doors to look for those unaccounted for.

Ranielle Mayor Andrea "Andy" Pendleton cried as she toured the washed-out town in Greenbrier Saturday. "I weep for my people, I weep for the businesses," she said.

"Roads destroyed, bridges out, homes burned down, washed off foundations," said Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill, according to "Multiple sections of highway just missing. Pavement just peeled off like a banana. I've never seen anything like that."

A flood warning remained in effect for Greenbrier County until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Tomblin said he expects 400 National Guard personnel to be deployed to assist in emergency operations Saturday.

Cathy Light and her husband Chris were among those in Clendenin, located in Kanawha County, left homeless by the floods. Six people died in the county, officials said.

"I don't have anything," said Cathy Light told The Associated Press as she ate the free meal provided by Grace Community Church. "Where do we go now?"

The heavy rainfall in West Virginia over six to eight hours prompted the National Weather Service to call the storms a "one-in-a-thousand-year event."