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Heavy rains cause third flooding in West Virginia
July 30, 2001 Posted: 8:25 PM HKT (1225 GMT)
MAN, West Virginia (AP) -- Heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides in West Virginia on Sunday for the third time in a month, chasing people from creek-side homes and from campgrounds. At least one death was blamed on the flooding.
Up to 2 inches of rain fell on already water-logged hillsides in just an hour early Sunday in many parts of the state, the National Weather Service said. More heavy rain was possible.
Flooding and mudslides in most areas were not as severe as during the devastating floods on July 8, but larger areas were affected, officials said.
Widespread evacuations occurred south of Charleston in Logan County along Buffalo Creek, the sit e of the 1972 flood caused by the collapse of a coal mine waste dam. That dam failure sent a wall of water raging down the 18 miles of the hollow toward Man, wiping out 11 communities and killing 125 people.
On Sunday, "we have 20 little camp communities under water," said Buffalo Creek Assistant Fire Chief Michael Compton. "It's not in the houses, but it's in the yards. It's pouring rain right now, so it's going to get higher." The weather service posted flood warnings throughout much of West Virginia.
Gov. Bob Wise toured flooded areas Sunday. "He wanted to go out and let everybody know that the state is still here to help," said spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin.
The body of a McDowell County boy believed to be 2 or 3 years old was recovered Sunday in the Big Ginny area, just outside the town of Davy, firefighters said. The boy had been playing outside his home and was swept into a drain pipe.
Workers with the state Department of Environmental Protection had to be called out in McDowell County when water from Elkhorn Creek caused gasoline to spew from an underground tank at a former gasoline station near Welch, said DEP spokesman Jamie Fenske.
Campsites near St. George in Tucker County, in the northern part of the state, and homes in Wyoming County in the south were evacuated as small streams rose out of their banks, said Tom Burns, director of operations in the state Office of Emergency Services.
The rain hit many of the same areas that were trying to recover from the July 8 floods, which killed two people, destroyed 1,500 homes and damaged 3,500 homes.
A second round of heavy rain struck this past week, flooding homes in seven counties on Thursday.
Before Sunday's flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had estimated recovery efforts would cost about $180 million. A total of more than $17 million in federal and state disaster assistance already has been approved for flood recovery efforts, FEMA said.
The governor had planned to call a special session in September to ask the Legislature to appropriate more money for flood relief. He now plans to call it within the next two weeks, chief of staff Mike Garrison said Friday.