HURLEY, Va. (AP) — Hurricane Ida’s remnants caused flash flooding that knocked about 20 homes off their foundations and washed several trailers away in western Virginia. More severe weather was predicted Wednesday, with heavy rains stretching into New England and tornadoes likely in parts of the Appalachians.
About 50 people were rescued and hundreds were evacuated from their homes in Virginia’s mountainous western corner, the Buchanan County sheriff’s office said. News outlets reported that one person was still unaccounted for in the small community of Hurley. The old mining town was built in a narrow draw between two mountains where Lester Fork flows into Knox Creek, and has been badly damaged by floods before. Two shelters were set up for the people displaced.
The remnants of the hurricane that devastated parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi were forecast to dump rain from the central Appalachians into New England on Wednesday, with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) possible in spots from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.
The forecast also warned of significant and life-threatening flash flooding, especially in cities and areas of steep terrain, and major river flooding was predicted from northern West Virginia through New Jersey, particularly in the Monongahela, Potomac, Susquehanna, Delaware, and lower Hudson river basins.
Ida remains a tropical depression, and the National Hurricane Center said its top sustained winds of 30 miles (48 kph) were forecast to strengthen through Wednesday night. “Tornadoes are probable” across parts of the mid-Atlantic states during the afternoon and evening hours,” forecasters warned, issuing a tornado watch along the Appalachians through western Virginia and northern North Carolina.
The Virginia National Guard has been helping with the flood response, with 10 soldiers with tactical trucks staging at the state Department of Emergency Management command post in Hurley and helping people get to safety, the guard said in a news release. Another 30 soldiers were expected to be ready to respond Wednesday morning with trucks capable of transporting people in high water and chain-saw teams for clearing debris.
Meanwhile, a storm named Kate persisted as a tropical depression far from Atlantic coasts, and Tropical Storm Larry formed, forecast to become a major hurricane.
“Tenacious Compact Kate” was “still holding on” in the central Atlantic, the hurricane center said, while Tropical Storm Larry formed south of the Cape Verde Islands. Forecasters predicted it would rapidly intensify in a manner similar to Ida, becoming a major hurricane with top wind speeds of 120 mph (193 kph) by Saturday as it blows westward.