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."
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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.
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 Weather.com. "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.