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West Virginia Braces for Heavy Rain, Flooding as Ida Arrives

An emergency declaration authorizes state agencies to coordinate a response to the storm and pre-position personnel, vehicles and equipment for possible rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches through late Wednesday across a wide swath of the state.

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(TNS) - After battering the Gulf Coast with 150 mile per hour winds and leaving more than 1 million homes and businesses without power on Monday, the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept into West Virginia on Tuesday, prompting Gov. Jim Justice to issue a state of emergency declaration for all of the state's 55 counties.

The declaration authorizes state agencies to coordinate a response to the storm and pre-position personnel, vehicles and equipment for possible rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches through late Wednesday across a wide swath of the state.

Isolated areas could receive up to 6 inches of rain during the period, according to the National Weather Service , which on Tuesday included more than half the state's counties in a flash-flood warning in effect through Wednesday. The watch area includes 30 counties and parts of six others, mainly in the western, northern and central portions of the state.

A flood warning was issued for the Little Kanawha River at Glenville . While the stream was flowing at a depth of about 3 feet early Tuesday, it was predicted to crest at 23.5 feet early Thursday, a few inches above its flood stage.

Officials in Point Pleasant on Tuesday canceled the city's annual Tribute to the River festival, which had been scheduled to begin Thursday, because of high-water concerns on the Ohio River , expected to crest at 34 feet — 6 feet below flood stage — by early Friday.

Once a Category 4 hurricane, Ida had been downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it swept into West Virginia , where scattered showers lingered from a cold front stalled over the southern portion of the state. That front produced isolated heavy rain over parts of Wayne , Lincoln and Cabell counties, including a half-hour downpour Monday afternoon that caused widespread street and underpass flooding in downtown Huntington .

"All West Virginians need to absolutely be ready for the potential impact Ida may bring to our state," Justice said after issuing the emergency declaration.

The governor also cautioned residents to heed the advice of emergency officials, monitor storm news, and refrain from driving through floodwaters.

The declaration authorized Justice to call up to 60 National Guard troops to active duty to respond to the weather emergency. The state Emergency Management Division is hosting twice-daily virtual briefings with the National Weather Service for county and city emergency agencies across the state.

Rick Steelhammer is a features reporter. He can be reached at 304-348-5169 or

rsteelhammer@hdmediallc.com. Follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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(c)2021 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)

Visit The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.) at www.wvgazette.com

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