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Two More Bodies Pulled From Virginia Floodwaters

July 1, 1995

The body of a 3-year-old girl snatched from her grandparents by a roiling stream five days ago was pulled Saturday from the swollen Shenandoah River in Virginia.

Rescuers also found a 64-year-old woman swept into a river by a mudslide, bringing the death toll to eight in more than a week of flooding from days of heavy rain.

Searchers on jet skis found the body of the girl, Alexa Orentes, about 8 1/2 miles downstream from the campground where she was washed away in a flash flood on Tuesday, said Janet Clements, a state Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman.

The body of the woman missing since a mudslide pushed her house into the Robinson River on Tuesday was found trapped in rocks 200 yards from her home in Madison County, about 30 miles north of Charlottesville in central Virginia, state police said.

The forecast Saturday was for thunderstorms and a flash flood watch in some areas of Virginia, but the sun was shining in others. Cleanup was underway and National Guard helicopters were ferrying in supplies to people cut off by high water and washed-out roads and bridges.

``Our problems in this area are just beginning,″ said David Jones, chairman of the board of supervisors in Madison County, near Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive. ``We have just scratched the surface. There are houses missing, roads missing.″

Eighty of the county’s bridges have been destroyed and another 200 damaged, state officials said. Damage is estimated at $100 million statewide since the flooding began June 22.

``We need bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders. And we need people to operate them,″ said Mary Beahm of the Madison County Rescue Squad.

Alexis was camping with her grandparents, Roy and Virginia Smith, when water began lapping at their Winnebago’s wheels at the campground in Warren County, north of Madison.

Smith waded several hundred yards with Alexa in his arms and left her on high ground. But the child _ apparently fearing her grandpa was in peril _ rushed into the water and was swept away.

The Smiths watched in horror and screamed for help from a tree they’d clambered up for safety. When rescuers reached them, they were bruised and battered and up to their necks in water.

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