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Flash Flooding in West Virginia Prompts Dozens of Water Rescues

Residents of two counties in West Virginia were recovering from significant flash flooding that led to dozens of water rescues early Monday and destroyed at least two bridges, officials said.

Overnight, brown water rose rapidly in Kanawha and Fayette County, uprooting trees, flooding cars and roads, washing out divers and damaging at least 100 homes in Kanawha County, just east of Charleston, W.Wa., officials said.

The rain started around 3 a.m. Monday and fell two to three inches, said Megan Kiebler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

In Kanawha County, emergency calls were bombarded with hundreds of requests. Emergency services conducted 25 water rescues, said Jennifer Herrald, county manager for the Kanawha County Commission.

There were no reports of deaths or significant injuries in either province.

“We have many mountains and valleys,” said Mrs. Herrald. “When we have intense amounts of rain, the creeks rise quickly to those lower areas.”

In neighboring Fayette County, Route 39 outside Gauley Bridge will remain closed for several hours. Rod Perduesaid the County Sheriff’s Department chief on Monday morning.

More than 2,000 people in Fayette and Kanawha counties were without power from Monday afternoon. The rain had stopped, but the creeks had yet to recede, Mrs. Kiebler said.

There could be another series of showers and thunderstorms later in the afternoon, she said. This pattern of possible afternoon rain and storms continues this week, she added.

Flash flooding is not limited to areas with nearby bodies of water. They can show up anywhere where intense rainfall occurs for a short period of time.

As the climate warms, researchers expect flash flooding to increase and become “flasher,” resulting in shorter but more intense floods.

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