At least 23 people have been killed by floods in West Virginia. Hundreds more have been rescued from swamped homes as the US state suffers its worst flooding in more than a century.
Parts of the mountainous state received more than 250mm of rain on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, some areas recorded 25 percent of their average annual rainfall in just 24 hours. Inevitably, this caused rivers and streams to overflow.
A state of emergency was declared in 44 out of 55 counties. This prompted the deployment of 200 members of West Virginia’s National Guard to help rescue efforts.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said: “Our biggest challenge continues to be high waters.”
Government officials are focusing resources on rescuing those trapped or swept away by the flooding, he said, adding that some 66,000 residences are without power.
Worst hit was the tiny town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County. The state Division of Homeland Security reported 15 deaths and rescue efforts are ongoing.
The violent storms responsible were part of a severe weather system that swept through the Midwest, triggering as many as 18 tornadoes.
Eight of those tornadoes have now been confirmed to have struck Illinois on Wednesday evening, two of which were classified as EF-2s.
Many rivers rose to dangerous heights, including the Elk River, which reached 9.7m, the highest since 1888. More than 100 homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed.
The high river levels should now have peaked, as of Friday night. The worst of any rain is in the process of clearing away, leaving just a few showers into the weekend.