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News / Nation & World

Floodwaters force West Virginia students to spend night at high school

By JOHN RABY, Associated Press
Published: February 17, 2023, 10:15am

Floodwaters in West Virginia forced some high school students to hunker down for the night in an impromptu slumber party complete with pizza, board games and football tosses in the gymnasium.

All schools in Lincoln County, in the southern part of the state, were dismissed two hours early on Thursday because of high water, which made many roads impassable. Parents who were able to drive to the schools were allowed to pick up their children but some students of Lincoln County High School in the town of Hamlin were forced to stay put.

“At this point, students are resting and tucked in for the night,” the school district said in a notice posted on its Facebook page and website shortly before midnight.

Cots, blankets, pillows and other supplies were donated by members of the community, stores and churches, school officials said, and staff members stayed on site to supervise the students.

Photos on the school’s Facebook page showed students playing board games in the cafeteria and tossing a football in the gymnasium. Pizza, juice boxes and other donated foods were spread out across tables. School officials said they would feed the students breakfast Friday and then bring them home.

Officials called off classes Friday in Lincoln County and at least nine others after the storms dumped nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain in some places. In Kanawha County, the state’s largest, school bus routes were changed or closed because of flooded roads. Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency as the storms rolled through Thursday.

In the southern West Virginia town of Pax, a woman called 911 saying her car was stuck in high water Friday morning and that she couldn’t find her infant, the Fayette County sheriff’s office said in a news release. The authorities said emergency workers had arrived to help but that they wouldn’t release further details for the moment.

In Mingo County, along West Virginia’s border with Kentucky and Virginia, a mudslide knocked over a few train cars loaded with coal near a mine, according to the county emergency services office. The mudslide also uprooted a few houses, according to WCHS-TV, which reported that residents were being helped out of their homes. No injuries were reported and State Police were being sent to investigate.

The flooding came amid a string of thunderstorms that swept across the South. Flood warnings remained in place for several counties in southern and central West Virginia. Thunderstorms were possible Friday from the Florida Panhandle to the North Carolina coast, said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Oravec.

In Kansas City, Kansas, doctors at the University of Kansas sent out a plea for the public to be careful after spending Thursday treating people who suffered broken wrists and even concussions from falling after a freezing drizzle lasting eight to 10 hours coated pavement across the area with a thin glaze of ice.

Some parents had children in their arms when they tumbled, causing injuries to the youngsters, the hospital said in a news release.

Associated Press writer Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.