clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


Torrential thunderstorms sent a flash flood surging through a valley into this Ohio River town, killing at least 11 people, leaving 51 missing and scores of others homeless Friday, authorities said.

Raging floodwaters late Thursday swept homes off foundations and washed away cars. About 200 people were reported evacuated in central Ohio."The valleys are choked with debris," Gov. Richard Celeste told reporters after flying over the hilly Appalachian region in eastern Ohio. "A wall of water wiped a path through the area."

The governor declared a state of emergency and dispatched about 50 National Guard troops to the area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared Belmont County, which includes Shadyside, and Jefferson and Franklin counties disaster areas, making federal aid available to residents. Seventeen counties now have been declared disaster areas because of flooding or tornadoes since May 29.

Ten bodies were taken to the Bauknecht Funeral Home in Shadyside, said Bob Bell, funeral director. One body was taken to Bellaire City Hospital, he said.

County Sheriff Tom McCort, who said he was running the recovery effort, said 51 people in Shadysville and Meade Township, where the two creeks run south of the village, were missing as of 8:45 p.m.

The list was compiled through telephone inquiries with townspeople and relatives and interviews with people evacuated from the area.

About 200 people came and went from a Shadyside disaster center during the day, seeking news of missing friends and relatives.

Chuck Vogt, Belmont County coroner's investigator, said two bodies were found in the Ohio River and one was found in a field next to the river after water receded. He said the rest were found in the creeks that flow into the river.

Some of the bodies were taken to a funeral home that set up a temporary morgue in Shadyside, about 10 miles south of Wheeling, W.Va.

Officials from Ohio, West Virginia and the U.S. Coast Guard were searching the Ohio River for survivors and bodies, and Belmont Fire Chief Mark Badia said National Guard troops were to continue searching the creeks throughout the night.

At least five houses along Wegee Creek were washed away, and two cars were floating in water in one of the basements. Anything that was still standing was covered with at least 6 feet of debris such as trees, appliances and furniture.

The National Weather Service issued no flood warning before the disaster, although it did issue a flood watch, said Al Wheeler, deputy meteorologist in the bureau's Cleveland office.