POUND — Wise County officials have declared a local state of emergency after early Thursday morning flash flooding cut off much of Pound and flooded sections of Wise and Coeburn.
Wise County Emergency Ser- vices declared the emergency at 7 a.m. after heavy rainfall caused the Guest and Pound rivers and Indian Creek to swell and flood several areas, including the Cane Patch section near Pound.
County Emergency Services coordinator Jessica Swiney said the worst of the floodwaters had receded in Pound and Wise by 4 p.m.
No injuries or deaths have been reported in the wake of Thursday’s flooding, Swiney said, and there have been no reports of water entering residential living areas except for some basement flooding.
Swiney said the county has requested a state emergency declaration to access more resources to respond to the flooding and any resulting damage.
Fourteen residents were rescued in the Pound area and another two in the Guest River section of Norton, Swiney said.
Three shelters had been set up at J.W. Adams Combined School in Pound, the Wise Volunteer Fire Department and Coeburn Middle School. Swiney said all three shelters were unoccupied at 4 p.m.
The National Weather Service office in Morristown had reported approximately 6 inches of rainfall since midnight Wednesday in some parts of Wise County.
By 8:30 a.m., deputies and residents were reporting water as deep as three feet along parts of Pound’s downtown Main Street.
In Coeburn, the Guest River reached near the top bank along Front Street, Coeburn Fire Chief Clint Hawkins said. The Bondtown and Tom’s Creek sections of town saw the heaviest flooding, county emergency officials said.
Wise County Sheriff Grant Kilgore said Wise was seeing flooding at the Hurricane Road and old Coeburn Road intersection as well as Main Street and the Birchfield area near the old J.J. Kelly High School building.
The Virginia State Police closed U.S. Route 23 between Wise and Pound near the 53-mile marker in the morning after water covered sections of the northbound and southbound lanes.
The Wise County Public Service Authority reported a water line break in the Bold Camp area of Pound due to Thursday’s flooding.
The PSA has issued boil water advisories until further notice for PSA customers in the Bold Creek and Mill Creek areas.
The boil notice includes households along Bold Camp Road, Right Fork Road, Meade Fork Road, McFall Fork Road, Mountain Cove Road, Gary Powers Road, River Hill Road, Little Road and Sunnydale Farm Road.
Sheriff Kilgore said deputies arrived in Pound at about 7 a.m. to block traffic from rising water at the three entrances from U.S. Route 23 and from Route 83.
Access from the Bean Gap section of the county also saw blockage from high water and fallen rocks, Kilgore said.
Sheriff’s deputies, boat crews from the Appalachia and Coeburn fire departments and firefighters from Wise worked in a joint effort to rescue 12 stranded staff and residents of the Rachel’s Haven group home in Pound after floodwaters from Indian Creek and the Pound River sealed all major road entrances into the town.
Leah Kennedy of the Rachel’s Haven staff was among the 12 brought from a dry patch near the IGA supermarket in Pound. She said she and staffers saw water rising around the group home at about 2 a.m. on Thursday. By 7 a.m., floodwaters had submerged the bridge between the site and Business U.S. 23 leading into town.
Kennedy said she and house staff and residents were able to cross an unflooded yard and reach the IGA, where they awaited rescue and evacuation by Mountain Empire Transit bus.
Virginia Department of Transportation Bristol District spokesperson Michelle Earl said most major Wise County routes affected by the flooding were passable by Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Route 23 still had one section of the southbound lane between Wise and Pound closed, she said, while Route 630 in the Elmira area near Wise and Route 640 in Duncan Gap have been closed due to substantial damage.
Route 671 in the South Fork area still had standing water but was passable, Earl said. VDOT officials are working on a time frame for repairs.
The National Weather Service in Morristown had issued a flood watch for Wise County into Friday night with precipitation chances ranging from 80% in the daytime to 60% before 7 p.m.
National Weather Service: www.weather.gov/mrx/
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