RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday declared as State of Emergency in Southwest Virginia in response to heavy rains and "extreme flooding" affecting the region.
A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and position people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery efforts.
“This weather is potentially dangerous, and rivers and streams can reach flood stage hours after the rain has passed,” Governor Northam said. “I urge all Virginians to monitor forecasts, and be prepared to obey local evacuation orders if needed. We are grateful to first responders who are working to rescue people from flooded homes and keep citizens safe.”
Emegrneyc officials say that more than 500 residents in and around the town of Richlands, in Tazewell County, have been displaced by flooding and needed rescue from their homes. A number of roads in Southwest Virginia are closed or washed out.
Virginians should not drive across any flooded roadway, as it only takes six inches of water to move a vehicle, and roads may be washed out beneath the floodwaters.
Severe weather conditions are expected to persist across the Commonwealth for the next 24 hours. State and local officials will continue to monitor weather conditions.
Virginians should follow the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for preparedness updates and their local National Weather Service office for the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches, or warnings.