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23 dead in West Virginia flooding

CHARLESTON, West Virginia – All Karol Dunford has left is a dirty nightgown, caked in mud from the floodwaters that ravaged her West Virginia town and killed at least 23.

She lost the trailer where she lived for 30 years. She lost her wheelchair, her medicine, and her best friend, a little Chihuahua named “Frankie.”

As the deluge swamped southeast West Virginia on Thursday evening, Dunford, 71, sat immobile in her wheelchair in her living room as the pitch-black floodwater rose past her ankles, to her knees, up to the armrests.

She talked to her daughter, Randee Suzer, on the phone. She said it was silent but for the roar of the water.

Dunford, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, screamed and screamed but feared no one would come to save her.

Hundreds of others were stranded, too.

Teams across the state rescued people from second-story windows, the hoods of cars, the tops of trees. They saved Dunford from her flooded trailer in the middle of the night, just as the water started licking her shoulders.

More than 100 homes were destroyed, some torn from their foundations and carried away. The roaring water uprooted trees, tore down bridges, washed away roads and knocked out power and phone service to thousands of homes.

Families were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Dunford’s tiny town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County took the brunt of the devastation. County Sheriff Jan Cahill described “complete chaos.” At least 15 people were killed in the county and officials fear more will be discovered as they start sorting through the rubble the storm left behind. (AP)

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