ROANOKE, Va. – As parts of Buchanan County remain devastated by flooding, Roanoke area rescue teams are deploying their personnel to help with rescue efforts.
Roanoke City and Roanoke County crews received the call around 7 a.m. on Wednesday. Between the two departments and the city of Salem, 17 personnel were sent to the area with boats and equipment.
Trevor Shannon, Roanoke City’s Battalion Chief of Emergency Management, said it’s important to help neighboring communities when they need it.
“We do this together. We want all the teams to be successful and be safe while they’re doing it. That’s exactly why we want to be good at it, and when we help others, we know we may need to call them,” Shannon said.
Brian Clingenpeel, Roanoke County Fire Community Outreach Coordinator, said some counties don’t have all the resources to deal with disasters, and that’s when the call for help is typically made.
“When a county has made this kind of a plea for help and they’re getting resources from all over the county, it’s a very active situation,” Clingenpeel said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 40 people were unaccounted for in the county, hundreds of homes were destroyed, and Governor Youngkin declared a state of emergency.
Eric Breeding, Chief Deputy for Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, remarked on the efforts made from around the state during a press conference.
“We have rescue teams from all across the state, we have numerous men and women over there putting in a lot of hard work, a lot of searching going on this is just gonna take time okay,” Breeding said.
Much of the coordinated effort is done through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).
Bill Chrimes, Search and Rescue specialist for VDEM, said his team and the other rescue teams have a lot of work ahead of them.
“It is more widespread ... probably in the neighborhood of about 10 miles affected, so it’s gonna take us time to make access to all those houses cause it’s significantly more houses as well,” Chimes said.
While working in very unpredictable conditions, efforts take time and caution.
“You never know what’s coming in that water or what’s down in that water. And so we have to prepare for everything,” Shannon said.
Roanoke area rescue teams are expected to continue to help Buchanan County as long as they’re needed. Their return depends on how many resources are needed in the area at that time.