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Federal Aid After Floods Kill 24 In W Virginia

US President Barack Obama has approved federal aid for West Virginia communities devastated by floods that have killed at least 24 people.

Floods Kill 24 In W Virginia

The deaths included two boys aged four and eight who were swept away in rushing creek waters in different counties.

The state has declared an emergency and hundreds of people have been rescued after they were forced to evacuate swamped homes.

The storms have left about 24,000 people without power and water is not running in some areas.

Mr Obama’s aid package means that residents in Greenbrier, Kanawha and Nicholas counties can get financial help for temporary housing and home repairs, get low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and to qualify for other help.

The President spoke with West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on Saturday afternoon to give his condolences and make sure the governor has the federal resources he needs, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Many rivers have risen to dangerous heights, including the Elk River, which reached 32ft, the highest since 1888.

Tim Rock, spokesman for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said: “There have been towns that have been completely surrounded by water.

“People say there is eight to nine feet of water in their house. It’s at least into the hundreds forced to get emergency shelter.”

One householder, Belinda Scott, fled to her attic with her pets as her property filled with water. She smelled natural gas.

The White Sulphur Springs house blew up and she was left hanging on to a tree next to the burning wreck of her home.

Her husband, Ronnie Scott, said: “My wife was out there four and a half hours hanging in a tree with a house burning right beside her, flood waters running all around her.”

About 500 people were stranded overnight in a shopping centre when a bridge washed out.

Some 200 National Guardsmen are helping in eight counties, helping local rescue crews.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s communications director said some areas had been “devastated”.

The mountainous state was drenched by up to 10in of rain on Thursday, causing rivers and streams to overflow.

It amounted to a quarter of West Virginia’s annual rainfall in a single day.

It comes after eight tornadoes damaged rural communities in northern Illinois on Wednesday.

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